Overseas Visitors Health Cover

Overseas Visitors Health Cover is for visitors to Australia who need medical cover, in particular those who need health insurance to fulfil their visa requirements (e.g. the 457 long-stay working visa or a student visa).

Every Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC) policy will differ in price, eligibility and benefits. However, most policies should cover you for medically-required hospital admissions and a portion of doctors' fees.

In addition to cover for hospital and medical expenses, you can also purchase General Treatment cover. General Treatment cover pays benefits towards the services of health care providers in private practice such as dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists. Insurance covers a percentage of these costs, though you will still be required to cover some of the costs yourself.

Without Overseas Visitors Health Cover or another level of medical cover like travel insurance, you'll need to pay your own medical costs in Australia. Even in a public hospital, these costs could exceed $1000 per day.

Tips for choosing Overseas Visitors Health Cover

When selecting Overseas Visitors Health Cover, keep a few things in mind to make sure you get the health insurance policy you need:

  • Make sure it complies: with the requirements of your visa;
  • Read the policy document: so you know what you're covered for and consider the restrictions and exclusions that apply; 
  • Keep waiting periods in mind: as some features of your policy may require you to wait before you can claim on them. Pre-existing conditions in particular have a 12 month waiting period, but some health funds won't cover them at all under Overseas Visitors Health Cover;
  • Keep your policy current: If you fall behind in any premium payments, your health fund may cancel your membership or refuse your claims, which could affect your visa status.

The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the governments of the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Slovenia, Malta, Italy, the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand, which entitles you to limited subsidised health services for immediate medically necessary treatment while visiting Australia.


These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.