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Health Care Guide for International Students in Australia

If there’s one thing that COVID has made us aware of, it’s the importance of staying healthy.

For international students, one of the biggest worries today is falling sick in another country. Linked to this are concerns about healthcare and the actions to take in times of illness, and of course, the costs involved. If you’re heading to Australia, here’s some important information for you on the healthcare front. Australia is one of the countries that provides health cover to international students.

Here’s a look at:

  • Healthcare in Australia for international students
  • Accessing the services
Current Health Services Offered by Australia: OSHC

In Australia, international students can access healthcare services through Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), an insurance to cover the cost of medical bills while in Australia. Meant to reduce your financial spending in healthcare, the OSHC is required even by family members accompanying you.

However, do keep in mind that the OSHC covers just some medical expenses. These include

  • Visits to the doctor (General Practitioners)
  • Public hospital shared ward accommodation
  • Private hospital shared ward accommodation (if in contractual agreements with the insurer)
  • Ambulance services
  • Some prosthetic devices
  • Day surgery accommodation
  • Limited pharmaceuticals (medicines) of up to $50 per pharmaceutical item to a maximum of $300 a year for a single membership

Currently there are six OSHC insurers approved by the Government of Australia to offer OSHC policies and products, i.e.

  • Australian Health Management (AHM OSHC, offered through Medibank Private Limited)
  • CBHS International Health
  • Peoplecare Health Limited (Allianz Global Assistance offers OSHC products and policies under an arrangement with Peoplecare)
  • BUPA HI Pty Ltd (Australia)
  • Medibank Private Limited
  • Nib Health Funds Limited

Here are the various ways you can buy the OSHC

  • Through the Overseas Student’s educational institution; or
  • Direct from the Insurer by visiting the Insurers’ websites; or
  • Through migration agents; or
  • Through education agents acting as intermediaries on behalf of the Education Institution; or
  • In store, if the student switches provider whilst in country; or
  • In another way the Insurer makes their policies available for purchase

Most universities and education providers have a preferred providers who deals with specific insurers. It is recommended that (international) students opt for the preferred providers as sometimes these come with extra benefits.

An important point to note is that the OSHC does not cover dental work. It’s a good idea to have a thorough check-up, dental included before leaving for your global ed destination. If you have cavities – get them filled before you leave (and keep up the flossing!) – Dental aid can be exorbitant.

On-Campus Healthcare Services

Apart from the OSHC, most universities and education providers have on-campus healthcare services by qualified health care professionals for their students – both local and international students. Usually, under such campus health services, they offer various medical services, which include:

  • Doctor’s appointments
  • General check-ups
  • Referrals to specialists
  • Mental and sexual health assessments
  • Women’s health
  • Travel vaccinations
  • Sports medicine, and more

Depending on the service and the extent of it, these can be either be both free, or be chargeable as per the respective university.

Here’s a look at few universities in Australia that provide on-campus healthcare services to their (international) students:

  • Monash University provides free healthcare at its healthcare clinic including various other medical services.
  • Deakin University have campus medical centres and services, and free counselling services as well.
  • The University of Queensland provides routine medical assistance through its various UQ Health Clinics, and counselling services among others.
  • Victoria University offers on-campus health services including first aid and advice from student health advisors with various clinics and centres for the same
  • Griffith University also provide health and medical services with cost varying from if it is covered by your insurance or not.

In case of the unavailability of a university clinic, you can visit the OSHC website of your insurer and look for a doctor, or a health-care provider by searching in the search-bar section. Few important questions that you must ask the doctor/provider in such scenario are:

  • Cost of the appointment
  • Mode of billing
  • Is the appointment fully covered by OSHC or partly covered?
Australian and Australian Universities’ Response to Covid19 (for International Students)

During this Covid19 pandemic, many universities have also set up Covid support for international students. Various universities have stepped up at this time by offering a range of support to international students including:

  • Fee deferrals,
  • Deferred studies or payments,
  • Food and accommodation support
  • Mental health and other medical support

Additionally, the Australian government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment has also set up support for international students affected by Coronavirus. Get the full details here.

While it’s exciting to be leaving for your global ed journey, you need to have all the information on your medical insurance and steps to take in case a need for medical attention arises. Make a note of the above and stay safe!

Date added
21.08.2020

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