Health insurance for expats

Protect your health and finances while you're working abroad, with expat insurance or travel insurance.

Updated

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If your working life takes you away from Australia's shores, expat health insurance is designed to ensure that you and your family won’t be left with significant medical bills if you suffer a serious illness or injury, covering everything from hospital accommodation and treatment fees to medical repatriation to Australia.

Why should you consider expat health insurance?

Health insurance for expatriates enables you and your family to access a high level of medical care wherever you are in the world. While the standard of healthcare in Australia is quite high, the medical care and treatment on offer internationally can vary greatly from one country to the next.

With this in mind, expat health insurance is essential to ensure that the healthcare needs of you and your family are always looked after.

What is covered by health insurance for expatriates?

Although the benefits offered by expat health insurance differ from one policy to the next, comprehensive expat health insurance will usually cover the following medical services.

  • Hospital accommodation
  • Surgical and theatre fees
  • In-hospital medicines
  • Nursing care
  • Day surgery
  • Specialists’ fees
  • Pathology, x-rays, diagnostic tests
  • Prosthetic implants and appliances
  • Rehabilitation
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Ambulance transportation and treatment
  • Cancer treatment
  • 24/7 emergency medical advice and assistance
  • Medical repatriation to Australia
  • Physio, chiro, osteo, speech therapy, dietitian, natural therapies

Who offers this type of cover?

There are two ways that you can access health insurance for expatriates.

  • Through your employer, if they offer cover for workers overseas.
  • By taking out an international health insurance policy yourself directly from an insurer.

Major global insurers such as Bupa and Allianz both offer international health insurance solutions for individuals and their families, as well as policies designed for businesses to offer to their employees. Health insurance for expats is also available from major insurance providers such as QBE and GU Health, so it is important to shop around and compare your cover options.

What is the difference between health and travel insurance?

If you are heading overseas and have started to compare your insurance options, you might be a little confused as to whether health insurance or travel insurance is right for you. However, there are a couple of key differences that set these two types of cover apart.

  • Health insurance for expats. This is designed for Australians who will be spending an extended period of time abroad. With this in mind, expat health insurance includes cover for day-to-day medical expenses like visits to the doctor, x-rays and pathology, as well as maternity care and dental treatment. Policies also include cover for emergency medical expenses and repatriation to Australia.
  • Travel insurance. On the other hand, this type of insurance is more suited to cover the needs of Australians taking shorter trips overseas. It typically does not include any cover for everyday healthcare expenses and services such as maternity care. Instead, the medical cover provided by travel insurance is designed to provide protection if you suffer an unexpected medical emergency while overseas. Travel insurance also provides cover for a range of other travel-related risks, including lost luggage, travel delays and cancellation fees.

Do I need a policy if I am covered by the RHCA?

Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) in place with the governments of 11 countries around the world.
RHCA countries that don't require health insurance
The RHCA allows you to access subsidised healthcare under the public health system in place at that destination; in other words, you’ll be covered by that country’s version of Medicare. Although the medical cover available under an RHCA is certainly beneficial, it has its limits.

  • It does not provide cover for a wide range of medical expenses, including ambulance services, dental treatment, elective treatments and treatment in private hospitals.
  • It does not cover the cost of medical repatriation to Australia.

This is why you should not think of the RHCA as a replacement for health insurance. Having a policy in place guarantees peace of mind and ensures that you can enjoy comprehensive medical cover around the world.

Can I suspend my Australian health insurance policy while overseas?

All Australian health funds allow you to suspend your domestic health insurance policy if you are heading overseas. Your time spent abroad will have to fall within a minimum and maximum trip length threshold for your policy to be eligible for suspension, and these periods vary between providers. Additional rules enforced by health funds can include the following.

  • Premium contributions must up to date, and in some cases paid in advance of your date of departure.
  • The policyholder must have held cover for a certain period of time, typically 12 months.
  • The suspension period does not count towards waiting periods.
  • Suspension for overseas travel can only be applied for once a year.

Remember to check your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or contact your health fund directly if you are planning to suspend cover, as each provider will have their own guidelines.

Minimum and maximum trip length thresholds by the health fund

Health fundCan you suspend your policy?Minimum length of tripMaximum suspension periodFind out more
AAMI logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
AHM health insurance
  • Yes
  • 30 days
  • 2 years
More info
HCF Logo
  • Yes
  • 30 days
  • 2 years
Go to Site
health.com.au
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 5 years
More info
Medibank
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 4 years
Go to Site
nib logo Image: Supplied
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
Qantas Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
Suncorp Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
CUA
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 3 years
Health fund Can you suspend your policy? Minimum length of trip Maximum suspension periodFind out more
AAMI logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
AHM health insurance
  • Yes
  • 30 days
  • 2 years
More info
HCF Logo
  • Yes
  • 30 days
  • 2 years
Go to Site
health.com.au
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 5 years
More info
Medibank
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 4 years
Go to Site
nib logo Image: Supplied
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
Qantas Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
Suncorp Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
Go to Site
CUA
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 3 years
Australian Unity
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 1 month
  • 2 years
More info
Bupa
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
More info
GMHBA
  • Yes
  • 1 month
  • 3 years
More info
GU Health Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
More info
HBF Health Insurance
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 6 months
More info
Health Care Insurance
  • Yes
  • 28 days
  • 2 years
More info
HIF Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 14 days
  • 2 years
  • 4 months
More info
Hunter Health Logo
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
More info
Latrobe
  • Yes
  • n/a
  • n/a
More info
Mildura
  • Yes
  • 2 weeks
  • 2 years
More info
onemedifundlogo
  • Yes
  • n/a
  • 2 years
More info
Peoplecare
  • Yes
  • 4 weeks
  • 2 years
More info
Phoenix Health
  • Yes
  • 21 days
  • 2 years
More info
queensland country health fund provider link
  • Yes
  • 4 weeks
  • 2 years
More info
St. Lukes Health
  • Yes
  • 2 weeks
  • 2 years
More info
Transport Health insurance
  • Yes
  • 30 days
  • 1 year
More info
Westfund
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 2 years
More info
ACA logo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 3 months
  • No minimum length
  • 2 years
  • Indefinite
More info
cbhslogo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 6 weeks
  • 3 years
More info
Defence Health Logo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 28 days
  • 2 years
More info
doctorshealthfundlogo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 1 month
  • n/a
More info
navyhealthlogo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 1 month
  • 2 years
More info
Police health logo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 2 weeks
  • 2 years
More info
rbhslogo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 3 months
  • 40 months
More info
rthealthlogo
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 28 days
  • 2 years
More info
Teachers Health Insurance
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 3 years
More info
tuh
  • Restricted health fund
  • Yes
  • 2 months
  • 3 years
More info
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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    natalieAugust 15, 2019

    My 24-year-old son is going to study in Amsterdam for 12 to 16 months. Could I get a quote?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniAugust 16, 2019Staff

      Hi Natalie,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      Since your son will be travelling to the country where Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) in place, your son then has access to the subsidised healthcare under the public health system in the said country. He will be covered by the Netherlands’ version of Medicare.

      If you still consider getting health insurance for your son, this page has list of insurer you may apply for. Please visit their official page to get quotes.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

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