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Health insurance for parents visiting Australia

Will health insurance cover my parents coming from overseas?

If your parents are from another country and they come to visit you in Australia, they will need to have health insurance while they are here. They will not be eligible for Medicare in Australia, so it’s important that they have Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) in case they require medical or hospital treatment. The only exception is if they come from a country that has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia.

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What is Overseas Visitors Health Cover?

Overseas Visitors Health Cover is a type of health insurance that is specifically designed for overseas visitors to Australia. Most Australian insurers offer a range of policies depending on whether you are travelling for business or for pleasure, and most will let you choose options ranging from inexpensive basic cover to more valuable comprehensive protection. Most OVHC policies will pay for:

  • Hospital accommodation and theatre fees
  • In-hospital doctor and specialist consultations
  • In-hospital medical fees
  • Intensive care fees
  • Removal of adenoids, appendix and tonsils
  • Emergency ambulance
  • Day surgery
  • Prostheses
  • Repatriation
  • Some ancillary services (usually for an additional fee)
However, most OVHC policies will not pay for:
  • Services related to assisted reproduction (e.g. IVF)
  • Treatment provided outside Australia
  • Treatment arranged in advance of the visitor’s arrival
  • Treatment for a pre-existing medical condition in the first 12 months of the policy
  • Treatment covered by compensation or damages
  • Elective cosmetic surgery

Are my parents eligible for Medicare in Australia?

The following countries have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) with Australia. If your parents live in one of the countries listed below, they will be eligible for certain benefits. If your parents’ country is not on this list then they do not get any Medicare benefits in Australia.

CountryEntitlementsPeriod of cover
Belgium
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Must have eligible European Health Insurance card
  • Covered for the duration of stay or until card expires
Finland
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Your parents are covered for the duration of their stay
Italy
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Must be an Italian citizen or resident
  • Covered for 6 months from arrival in Australia
Malta
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Must be a Maltese citizen or resident
  • Covered for 6 months from arrival in Australia
Netherlands
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Must have eligible European Health Insurance card
  • Covered for the duration of stay or until card expires
New Zealand
  • Public patient and public hospital and outpatient services
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Your parents are covered for the duration of their stay
Norway
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Your parents are covered for the duration of their stay
Republic of Ireland
  • Public patient and public hospital and outpatient services
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Your parents are covered for the duration of their stay
Slovenia
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Must have eligible European Health Insurance card
  • Covered for the duration of stay or until card expires
Sweden
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Your parents are covered for the duration of their stay
United Kingdom
  • Free public hospital treatment
  • Subsidised medicine
  • Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital treatments
  • Your parents are covered for the duration of their stay

Even if your parents are from one of these countries, they may not be sufficiently protected by Medicare. For example, if they are visiting from Italy then Medicare will only cover them for six months and with certain benefits. You may still need an OVHC policy even if they are eligible for Medicare.

Which insurers offer Overseas Visitors Health Cover?

The following table shows the kinds of Overseas Visitors Health Cover offered by some of the leading health funds.

FundWhat’s covered? (finder.com.au panel)More info
HIFVisitor Saver: covers the basics in a shared room in a public hospital. Services include:

  • ambulance
  • inpatient medical bills
  • theatre fees
  • pharmaceutical drugs
  • surgically implanted prostheses

Visitor Value: covers you for a shared room in a private or public hospital, plus some out-of-hospital medical expenses such as x-rays and GP visits. Services include:

  • ambulance
  • inpatient medical bills
  • theatre fees
  • labour ward charges
  • pharmaceutical drugs
  • surgically implanted prostheses
More info
Australian UnityAustralian Unity offers three levels of cover: Basic, Mid and Top Overseas Visitors Cover. The benefits include:

  • hospital accommodation and theatre fees
  • assistance with medical fees
  • emergency room fees
  • emergency ambulance
  • day surgery
  • prostheses
More info
HCFHCF Overseas Visitors Health Cover provides cover for various situations including:

  • government-approved prostheses
  • hospital accommodation
  • intensive care costs and removal of adenoids
  • appendix
  • tonsils
More info
nibnib offers five levels of overseas visitors cover including: Budget, Value Plus, Basic, Mid and Top Visitor Cover. Benefits include:

  • ambulance
  • hospital accommodation
  • repatriation
  • funeral benefit
  • extras cover
More info
What’s covered? (Non-panel funds)
Allianz Assistance OVHCBudget Visitors (Hospital Only) provides cover towards:

  • the cost of in-hospital doctor’s fees
  • overnight and same-day accommodation
  • operating theatre
  • intensive care
  • ward fees
  • surgically implanted prostheses
  • accidents
  • in-hospital pharmacy benefits
  • emergency ambulance
  • medical repatriation

Visitors Plus provides cover towards all the same in-hospital services plus:

  • out-of-hospital cover towards the cost of GP visits
  • pathology
  • radiology
  • specialist consultations
More info
BupaStandard Visitors Cover provides:

  • medium cover for hospital services and inpatient and outpatient medical services
  • plus 60% of outpatient pharmacy benefit
  • you can also add extras for an additional cost

Guardian Plus Visitors Cover provides high cover for:

  • hospital services and inpatient medical services
  • medium cover for outpatient medical services
  • 80% of outpatient pharmacy benefits

Extras Cover includes:

  • dental
  • optical
  • physio
  • chiropractic
  • natural therapies
  • speech therapy
  • occupational therapy
More info
HBFStandard Overseas Visitors Cover includes:

  • core hospital services
  • psychiatric care
  • rehab
  • theatre fees
  • non PBS in-hospital pharmacy
  • out-of-hospital medical
  • urgent ambulance
  • palliative care

Comprehensive Overseas Visitors Cover includes:

  • core hospital services
  • psychiatric care
  • rehab
  • theatre fees
  • podiatric surgery
  • maternity
  • heart treatment
  • cataracts
  • joint surgery
  • ambulance
  • non PBS in-hospital pharmacy
  • out-of-hospital medical
  • urgent ambulance
  • palliative care
  • PBS pharmacy
  • outpatient repatriation
More info
MedibankMedibank’s Overseas Visitor Health Insurance includes:

  • accommodation and doctors
  • specialists
  • surgeons and anaesthetists fees for in-hospital services including
  • ambulance
  • appendix
  • tonsils
  • adenoids and wisdom teeth removal
  • joint reconstruction surgery and investigations
  • colonoscopies
  • spinal fusion
  • weight loss surgery and bone marrow and organ transplants.

It also pays 100% of the MBS fee for GP visits.

More info

Parent category visas

Your parents might be able to apply for a parent category visa to visit you in Australia. This could allow them to stay in the country for up to two years as a temporary resident or live here as a permanent resident.

Eligibility

To be eligible they must:

  • Have a child who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen who has lived in Australia lawfully for at least two years prior
  • Have a sponsor who meets the above criteria
  • Meet the Balance of Family Test which requires that at least half of their children live permanently in Australia, or that more live in Australia than any other country
  • Meet health and character requirements

Visa types

There are different types of parent category visas:

  • Parent Visa (subclass 103). If your parents are applying from outside Australia, they have a child who lives in Australia and they wish to become permanent Australian residents.
  • Contributory Parent (Temporary) Visa (subclass 173). If they are applying from outside Australia, they have a child who lives in Australia, they wish to live in Australia for up to two years as temporary residents and they are prepared to pay higher application fees for faster visa processing.
  • Contributory Parent Visa (subclass 143). If they are applying from either inside or outside Australia, they have a child who lives in Australia, they wish to become permanent Australian residents and they are prepared to pay higher application fees for faster visa processing.
  • Aged Parent Visa (subclass 804). If they are applying from inside Australia, they have a child who lives in Australia, they wish to become permanent Australian residents and they meet the age requirements.
  • Contributory Aged Parent (Temporary) Visa (subclass 884). If they are applying from inside Australia, they have a child who lives in Australia, they wish to live in Australia for up to two years as temporary residents, they meet the age requirements and they are prepared to pay higher application fees for faster visa processing.
  • Contributory Aged Parent Visa (subclass 864). If they are applying from inside Australia, they have a child who lives in Australia, they wish to become permanent Australian residents, they meet the age requirements and they are prepared to pay higher application fees. 

Speak with an adviser about overseas visitors health cover (OVHC)

Details Features
Intermediate Working Visa
Intermediate Working Visa
  • Visa Condition 8501 compliant
  • Up to $6,000 for repatriation
  • Excess option: Not available
  • Cover for hospital accomodation
  • Cover for maternity services
  • Instant visa compliance letter
Get Quote More info
Workers Cover Plus
Workers Cover Plus
  • Visa Condition 8501 compliant
  • Up to $20,000 repatriation
  • Excess option: nil or $500
  • Cover for private hospital accommodation
  • Cover for day surgery procedures
  • Cover for out-of-hospital doctor and specialist fees
Enquire Now More info
Overseas Visitors Health Cover
Overseas Visitors Health Cover
  • Visa Condition 8501 compliant
  • Medical repatriation benefit
  • Excess option: Nil, $500 or $1,000
  • Accomodation in a private hospital
  • Cover for theatre and intensive care fees
  • Cover for pregnancy and birth related services
Enquire Now More info
Mid Visitor Cover
Mid Visitor Cover
  • Visa Condition 8501 compliant
  • Medical repatriation benefit
  • Excess option: Not available
  • 100% back on private hospital accomodation fees
  • 100% back on theatre, intensive care and ward fees
  • Cover for emergency ambulance transport
Enquire Now More info

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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