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Health Insurance for 489 Visa Holders

Coming to Australia on a 489 visa? Do you need health insurance?

If you’re coming to Australia on a 489 Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa, you will be able to live and work in regional Australia for up to four years. This temporary visa also allows you to bring eligible family members with you.

In order to qualify for a 489 visa you will need to make sure that you have an adequate level of health insurance cover. This requirement extends to all people included on your visa application.

It is important to make sure you take out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) with an Australian insurer before you come. Any relatives accompanying you will also need to take out this cover.

Not all Australian health funds provide an OVHC policy, but we have listed those that do in the guide below, along with details of what you need to know about getting the right insurance.

Which health funds offer cover for 489 visa holders?

HIF

HIF OVHC offers three levels of insurance for people coming to Australia on a working visa: Essentials Working Visa Cover, Intermediate Working Visa Cover and Comprehensive Working Visa Cover. All policies incorporate emergency ambulance, public hospital treatment and accommodation, theatre fees, prostheses, inpatient pharmaceuticals and repatriation. The Intermediate and Comprehensive policies also insure against some out-of-hospital medical costs.

Australian Unity

Australian Unity OVHC is designed to meet visa requirements and help you cut down on medical costs Australia-wide. Depending on the OVHC policy you take out It may include cover for doctor and specialist fees, hospital treatment and accommodation, theatre fees, emergency ambulance, and day surgery and procedures.

HCF

HCF OVHC includes cover for public and private hospital accommodation, theatre fees, intensive care, government-approved prostheses, physiotherapy and pharmaceuticals related to your admission, doctor and specialist fees, and emergency ambulance. A choice of a $0, $500 or $1,000 excess is available.

nib

nib OVHC has five levels of cover available: Budget, Value Plus, Basic, Mid and Top. All policies incorporate ambulance transport, public and private hospital accommodation, repatriation benefit and funeral benefit. The Mid and Top policies also include extras such as dental, optical and physio.

Allianz Global Assistance

Allianz Global Assistance OVHC is designed to meet health insurance visa requirement 8501. It is available in two cover levels and includes in-hospital doctor fees, hospital accommodation, theatre fees, intensive care fees, ward fees, prostheses, emergency ambulance and medical repatriation. Visitors Plus Cover includes out-of-hospital claims for things such as GP visits, pathology and radiology.

Bupa

Bupa OVHC allows you to access treatment in private and public hospitals around Australia. You can also claim costs from private doctors and specialists, pharmaceuticals and emergency ambulance. There are four different policies available to suit a variety of cover needs, two of which offer extras cover for practises such as dental, optical and physio.

HBF

HBF offers two policies: Working Visa Hospital Cover and Working Visa Hospital and Medical Cover. Both policies incorporate more than 5,000 procedures, theatre fees, medical gap and emergency ambulance. Working Visa Hospital and Medical Cover also includes out-of-hospital medical costs. Standard and Comprehensive Overseas Visitor Cover policies are available for relatives, and also cover public and private hospital treatment for more than 5,000 procedures.

Medibank Private

OVHC from Medibank Private provides insurance for hospital accommodation, treatment costs, doctor and specialist fees, inpatient pharmaceuticals and emergency ambulance. There are four levels  available: Working Visa Basic Insurance, Working Visa Hospital Insurance, Working Visa Hospital & Medical Insurance, and Top 85 Working Visa Health Insurance. The Top 85 policy also includes cover for a range of extras.


Will I be able to access Medicare?

As the holder of a subclass 489 visa, you will not be eligible to access subsidised health care services as part of Australia’s public health system, Medicare, unless you are from a country with which Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA). These countries are:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • The United Kingdom

You’ll need to arrange an adequate level of private health insurance cover before you apply for a visa, and evidence of your health insurance policy will need to be provided during the visa application process.

What determines adequate health insurance under the 489 visa rules?

To satisfy the conditions of a 489 visa, all OVHC policies must provide cover for:

  • Treatment in a public hospital
  • Hospital accommodation costs, theatre fees, intensive care fees, in-hospital pharmaceuticals, and emergency department fees that result in you being admitted to hospital
  • Admitted patient care and postoperative services
  • Surgically implanted prostheses on the Federal Government’s Prostheses List
  • Pharmaceuticals included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Medical services with a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item number
  • Emergency ambulance transport

Waiting periods apply to the cover options offered by Australian health funds. OVHC policies are only allowed to feature the following waiting periods:

  • 12 months for pre-existing conditions
  • 12 months for pregnancy
  • 2 months for psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care

Finally, under Australian law, there are only a few treatments that insurers are permitted to exclude from cover:

  • Assisted reproductive treatments
  • Elective cosmetic treatments
  • Bone marrow and organ transplants

Most health funds will clearly specify whether their policy is suitable for overseas visitors and for the holder of a 489 visa. However, it’s still vital that you check the policy documents to make sure any policy covers all the 489 visa health insurance requirements.

Are 489 visa holders covered by Medicare?

Unfortunately, most 489 visa holders are not covered by Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare system. Medical and hospital costs in Australia are quite expensive, so it’s essential that you have an adequate level of health insurance in place to minimise your out-of-pocket expenses.

However, if you’re visiting from a country that has an RHCA in place with Australia, you could be eligible to access subsidised health care under the Medicare system.

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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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