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Visitor health insurance for 601 visa holders

Do subclass 601 (Electronic Travel Authority) visa holders need health insurance in Australia?

The subclass 601 visa, also known as an Electronic Travel Authority, allows foreign citizens to visit Australia for tourism or business purposes. If you’re coming to Australia on a 601 visa, it’s essential to be aware that you will be responsible for covering all the medical and hospital expenses you incur while in Australia.

With this in mind, you must consider the many benefits of taking out private health insurance cover for the duration of your stay in Australia. While visitor health insurance is not a mandatory requirement for 601 visa holders, it offers vital financial protection and allows you to receive the medical care you need while in Australia.

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What is the 601 visa?

The subclass 601 visa is more commonly known as the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). This electronic document allows foreign citizens to travel to Australia on short-term visits for tourism or business.

The ETA replaces the need for visitors to receive a visa label or stamp in their passport and also removes the requirement for application forms. In most cases the ETA can be issued electronically by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection via travel agents and airlines around the world.

Once you have been granted an ETA, you are authorised to travel to and enter Australia. The ETA is automatically linked to your passport and it allows you to enter Australia as many times as you want in a 12-month period. The maximum duration of any one stay is three months.

What health funds offer cover for 601 visa holders?

Several Australian private health funds offer policies specifically designed to meet the cover needs of overseas visitors. These policies are known as Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) and they include cover for things like hospital accommodation and treatment, in-patient pharmaceuticals and emergency ambulance.

The table below includes a brief rundown of the OVHC options available from Australian health funds.

 Health fundOverseas Visitor Health Cover policy features Find out more
HIF LogoHIF offers two competitive cover options for foreign visitors on non-working visas: Visitor Saver and Visitor Value. Both policies cover:

  • Emergency ambulance
  • Shared-room hospital accommodation
  • Inpatient medical bills
  • Theatre fees
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Surgically implanted prostheses

Visitor Value also includes shared-room accommodation in a private hospital, as well as cover for out-of-hospital expenses such as x-rays and GP visits.

More info
AustralianUnityAustralian Unity OVHC offers protection against health care costs all around Australia. It includes cover for:

  • Doctor and specialist fees
  • Hospital treatment and accommodation
  • Theatre fees
  • In-hospital pharmaceuticals
  • Emergency ambulance
  • Day surgery and procedures
More info
NIB Logonib provides five levels of OVHC to visitors: Budget Visitor Cover, Value Plus Visitor Cover, Basic Visitor Cover, Mid Visitor Cover and Top Visitor Cover. All policies include cover for:

  • Ambulance services
  • Hospital accommodation and treatment
  • Theatre fees
  • Inpatient pharmaceuticals and repatriation

Top and Mid policies also include extras cover for services like optical and dental.

More info
allianz underwriter logoAllianz offers two levels of OVHC: Budget Visitors Hospital Only Cover and Visitors Plus Cover. Both policies cover:

  • In-hospital doctor’s fees
  • Hospital accommodation
  • Theatre and intensive care fees
  • Surgically implanted prostheses
  • In-hospital pharmacy
  • Emergency ambulance
  • Medical repatriation

Visitors Plus Cover also includes benefits for out-of-hospital care, for example GP visits and pathology.

BupaBupa offers Standard Visitors Cover and Guardian Plus Visitors Cover to foreign citizens visiting Australia. Both policies include cover for in-patient medical services such as:

  • Hospital treatment and accommodation
  • Theatre fees
  • In-hospital pharmaceuticals
  • Doctor’s fees

Both policies also include cover for GP visits and outpatient pharmaceuticals, while Guardian Plus Cover also includes extras such as dental, optical, physio and natural therapies.

More info
HBFHBF offers two levels of cover of visitor health insurance: Standard Overseas Visitor Cover and Comprehensive Overseas Visitor Cover. Both policies cover more than 5,000 procedures in addition to providing cover for:

  • Shared-room hospital accommodation
  • Theatre fees
  • Gap cover
  • Emergency ambulance

The Comprehensive policy also includes expensive procedures such as heart treatment and cataract surgery, as well as repatriation and out-of-hospital medical costs.

More info
medibankOverseas Visitor Health Insurance from Medibank Private covers:

  • Hospital accommodation
  • Doctor’s fees
  • Medical treatment costs
  • In-patient pharmaceuticals

It also covers out-of-hospital treatment costs such as GP visits, x-rays and pathology, along with all emergency ambulance costs.

More info

Who can get a 601 visa?

To qualify for a 601 visa, you must need to visit Australia for genuine tourism or business purposes. You must not work while in Australia (although you can conduct business visitor activities, such as attending conferences and negotiating contracts) and you must not study for more than three months. Acceptable tourist activities include holidays and seeing family and friends.

To be eligible for a 601 visa you must also hold a passport from one of the following countries or regions:

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong (SAR of China)
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Republic of San Marino
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan*
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom—British Citizen
  • United Kingdom—British National (Overseas)
  • United States
  • Vatican City

A few last minute checks

The visa application requirements for the 601 visa vary depending on your country of origin. Contact your nearest immigration office for information on the details and documentation you need to provide during the application process. All documents you provide must be certified copies of original documents.

You must be outside Australia when you apply for an ETA and you must apply at least two weeks before you travel. Passport holders from a select few countries – Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States – are eligible to apply for an ETA online, while all other passport holders will need to apply at either an immigration office outside of Australia, a travel agent or an airline.

Speak with an advisor about your visitor health insurance options

Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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