Most overseas visitors aren't covered under Australia's public healthcare system, Medicare.
Without health cover, a trip to the doctors could end up costing you thousands.
Fortunately, Australian health insurance companies offer 'overseas student health cover' (OSHC), which tailors specifically to temporary residents like those on the 500.
A subclass 500 visa – also known as a student visa - is for visitors who intend to study with an educational institution in Australia, especially for more than 3 months.
What are the visa requirements?
Firstly, you must be enrolled in a course of study in Australia. So make sure you have already started applying for and been accepted at an institution in Australia before you apply for the visa.
It's also important that you provide evidence of a welfare arrangement if you're under 18. That means you need to show that you'll be sufficiently supported by a parent or guardian.
You also need to hold Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), or fall in one of the exemption categories, for your stay in Australia. Any family member will also need OSHC before they arrive. It's really important you have this in place when you plan to move, or you risk having your application rejected or withdrawn.
How does health insurance work in Australia?
The Australian healthcare system is a hybrid model meaning citizens need both public and private healthcare in order to receive comprehensive cover. Medicare, the public healthcare system, covers most Australian's healthcare.
But Medicare doesn't cover everything. You can choose to take out private health insurance to give yourself a wider range of health care options and more comprehensive cover.
Australia also has a special system of health cover for international students called Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). It'll help you pay for medical or hospital care you may need while you're studying here.
What's included in OSHC?
OSHC contributes towards the cost of most prescription medicines - $50 per script with a limit of $300 per year - and an ambulance in an emergency.
It will also cover the same hospital and out-of-hospital treatments that are covered by Medicare, certain prosthetic devices and a shared ward in a private hospital.
Many offer more comprehensive policies that cover a wider range of treatments, including out-of-hospital services such as optical and dental.
Reciprocal health care arrangements
Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) are designed to help visitors cover emergency medical costs or access medical attention that can't wait until they've returned home.
If you are planning on studying in Australia, it's important that you find out if you'll be covered by Medicare.
Most visitors won't be covered. This means you could find yourself substantially out of pocket. Hospital fees can be over $1000.
The Australian Government currently has RHCA with the United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Malta, the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand.
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