Health Insurance for Overseas Visitors

As a visitor to Australia you may not be covered by the national health scheme and getting medical treatment can be very expensive.

If you are coming to Australia to work, study or travel you will want to know what your options are when it comes to getting health insurance organised for the length of your stay.

The Australian national health scheme, Medicare, provides Australian residents and eligible visitors to the country with free and subsidised medical treatment.

Overseas visitors have their eligibility for Medicare determined by their country of origin, type of visa and sometimes the last country they resided in.

Visitors from countries with reciprocal health care agreements have limited access to Medicare and it is strongly recommended that they find the appropriate health insurance cover.

If you do not qualify for access to Medicare, you may find that your visa requires you to take out private health insurance cover.

HICA can help you to make an informed decision on which health insurance cover to choose by offering a personalised service that ensures that you find the most appropriate plan for your needs.

There are a range of health cover options available, which vary for working visitors, students and tourists, and you will not have to look any further than HICA to help you in choosing the best suited health plan.

Health Insurance for Working Visitors

Visitors interested in working in Australia will need to have the appropriate working visa in order to be eligible for employment.

Visa options include the working holiday visa and the Subclass 482 TSS visa among others, and in some cases you may be required to organise health insurance in order for the visa to be granted.

Applicants for the working holiday visa are recommended to take out health insurance for the length of their stay in Australia, as visitors are unlikely to be covered by Medicare unless their country of origin is under the reciprocal health care agreements.

Holders and applicants for the subclass 457 visa are required by law to have health insurance.

We can help working visitors find the plan that fits their visa requirements and is also the most appropriate plan for their needs.

Health Insurance for Students

Overseas students interested in studying in Australia, who are not covered by reciprocal health care agreements, are required to take out a specific health insurance policy called the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

It is a condition on a temporary student visa to take out OSHC, which assists in covering the costs for medical treatment and care while staying in Australia.

HICA can help students to find the policy that will best suit their requirements with a free assessment/quotation service that will provide professional recommendations and policy quotations for their benefit.

Health Insurance for Tourists

Medical treatment in Australia can be very expensive, so even if tourists are only in the country for a short stay it would be wise to seek health cover - especially if their country is not under the reciprocal health care agreement with Australia.

Tourists are responsible for all the health-related costs they incur during their stay in Australia, so seeking an insurance plan can aid in anticipating any costs that may come resulting from an accident or illness.

In applying for a tourist visa, visitors may be asked to provide evidence that they have health insurance to pay for emergency medical treatment in Australia.

HICA can assist in finding the most appropriate plan to satisfy these visa requirements, and tailor the health cover to suit the needs of tourists and their families.

Medicare and Overseas Visitors

Medicare is the Australian National Health Scheme which provides eligible Australians and specific visitors with free or low cost medical treatment. This scheme works in conjunction with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that provides subsidisied medication.

Eligibility to Medicare by overseas visitors is dependent on the person’s county of origin, their Visa and in some cases their last country of residence.

Medicare Benefits

Australia's Medicare system has three parts:


If you elect to be treated as a patient in a public hospital by a doctor appointed by the hospital, Medicare will pay for the total cost of the treatment with no charge to you. You cannot choose your doctor and treatment may not be available immediately for non-emergency conditions.


In a public hospital you will be treated at no charge by a hospital appointed doctor. If you elect to be treated as a private patient Medicare will cover you for 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee (MBS) Fee for services provided by your medical practitioner whilst you are being treated as a private patient in a public hospital. In this instance you may have to pay a “Gap” payment being the difference between the MBS scheduled fee and the fee charged by your medical practitioner.

Out of hospital

Medicare will reimburse 85% of the MBS fee for your treatment. If your doctor bulk bills Medicare, you will not have to pay any “gap” or additional costs. The MBS fee is the schedule fee for a particular service set by the Australian Government and the percent you received is based on this set fee, not the fee charged by your Doctor.


Under the Australian Governments Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) you pay only part of the cost for prescription medicines purchased at pharmacies provided the medication is on the PBS medication schedule. The balance of the cost is covered by the Australian Government.

The Government reviews the scheme on an annual basis to determine the proportion to be paid by the public. From 1 January 2011, the maximum payment was $34.20 for PBS medicines or $5.60 if you have a concession card.

Access to Medicare

Medicare eligibility is generally restricted to people living permanently in Australia who are:

More information about Health Insurance for Overseas Visitors

HICA has a number of policies designed especially for overseas visitors depending on the type of visa and the duration of your stay in Australia. Should you wish to take advantage of our free assessment / quotation service, we would ask you to complete an assessment form so that we can provide you with our professional recommendations and quotations for the policies that will best suit your particular requirements.

Click here for HICA's Overseas Assessment form.