A Student Guide to the Healthcare System in Australia

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Hadeel Hossam

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06 April, 2020

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2 mins read

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The healthcare system in Australia is one of the most comprehensive and efficient in the world with around 1300 hospitals, more than 5000 pharmacies and about 50,000 doctors and specialists. It consists of two parts: the public health system and the private health system. The Australian government provides a public health care scheme called Medicare for all citizens and permanent residents plus a special insurance system for students. During this time of instability, you need to know all about the healthcare system for international students in Australia in case of an emergency.

What is Medicare?

 Medicare health system

Medicare is the health insurance scheme for all Australian and New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, and some visitors. It ensures access to healthcare services like hospital treatments and doctor visits along with various other services listed by the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) for free or at a reduced cost, also known as MBS cost or bulk billing. Not all services fall under MBS cost; therefore, it is important to know what is covered and what is not. Medicare does not cover ambulance services and most dental treatments. Find out more at the official Medicare website.

Are International Students Eligible for Medicare?

Medicare does not cover international students except for students coming from Norway, Belgium, or Sweden, due to the agreements made between Australia and these countries. If you are a student from any of these countries, you will have access to all services and discounts with your Medicare card.

Doctor saying goodbye to a student patient

What is the Healthcare System for Most International Students in Australia?

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), one of the visa requirements for all international students coming to study in Australia, is the medical insurance product for most international students. It’s part of the Allianz Global Assistance group, and it ensures you get the medical treatment you might need while living in Australia at affordable prices. It covers in and out of hospital treatment, emergency ambulances, and medical prescriptions. You can apply for an OSHC card through your university after you’ve paid your fees and chosen the insurer most suitable for you. Use the OSHC Australia website to help you choose. The average cost of healthcare for international students in Australia is $437.

How Can I Use OSHC for Medical Treatment?

The first step when you need non-emergency medical care is to visit a general practitioner (GP) or a local medical centre. It is better to find a direct billing medical provider by logging into the Students section of the OSHC website. Show your valid OSHC membership card and personal ID before getting examined by the GP or referred to a specialist. 

Additionally, If you need urgent medical care, you can head over to the nearest 24-hour Emergency and Casualty department with your card and personal ID as well.  


What If I End up Paying for my Medical Treatment?

You might be asked to pay your medical bill if the hospital does not have an agreement with your OSHC provider. Just make sure to keep the receipt to claim the amount later from your provider. The claim can be made either online, by post, or through your campus by visiting the Allianz Global Assistance office to receive a voucher that can be claimed at an Australia Post outlet with a maximum of $105

What If I Need Dental or Other Medical Care Services?

OSHC does not cover dental care, so if you wish to have insurance for it, you will have to purchase an extra health policy which covers visits to dentists, optometrists, and physiotherapists. The extra insurance details will vary depending on your provider.

Finally, If you have more questions on how you can make the most of your OSHC card, contact your insurer or your university (if you applied through them). It is important to keep up with your health insurance details and follow all the recommended steps to protect yourself throughout the current situation. 


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