Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC)

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Coming to Australia to work or visit?

If you’re coming to Australia on a temporary visa, Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) is a way to ensure you have health insurance for the duration of your stay.
OVHC helps international visitors pay for important medical services such as hospital stays, doctors’ visits, prescription medicine and ambulance services while they’re in Australia. The services you have access to depend on the policy you take out.

For some, purchasing cover will be a requirement of your visa. However, it’s recommended that everyone entering the country for a long-term stay consider an OVHC policy, as most international visitors are not covered by Australia’s public health system.

Overseas Visitor Health Cover policies and visa compliance

Our trusted providers offer a broad range of OVHC options that can meet your visa requirements. Joining is a quick and easy process and once you’re set up, they will send your visa compliance letter to your nominated email address.

What should I look for in Overseas Visitor Health Cover?

Here are a few things to look for when deciding on an OVHC policy.

In-hospital treatment

With an OVHC policy, depending on your level of cover you have the option to receive hospital treatment through the public or private system. If you have a visa compliant policy, you will at minimum receive the same coverage as an Australian resident through the public system. If you want the benefits of treatment through the private system, your insurer will usually have an agreement with some private hospitals to cover certain fees. It is also important to understand what exclusions your policy has as not all policies are the same.

Out-of-hospital treatment

Many policies will offer cover for some out-of-hospital treatment, such as visits to a doctor or medical services like pathology and radiology. Your healthcare provider may charge more than what your policy will cover for these services, in these instances you will need to pay the difference out-of-pocket. You also may want to consider taking out extras cover, which can be added to your OVHC policy to cover health services such as dental and physiotherapy.

Ambulance cover

Most OVHC policies will include ambulance cover if it’s deemed medically necessary by the ambulance service. It’s important to understand what your policy covers to avoid unwanted out-of-pocket costs so check these details with your provider.

Waiting periods

When you take out a OVHC, you will have to wait for a set amount of time before making a claim for some benefits. This time is referred to as a waiting period and varies depending on the benefit you wish to claim. For example, you may have to wait 12 months before claiming on pregnancy services, but only two months for dental. Some services won’t have a waiting period before you can claim.

Common visas and if they need OVHC

Working Visas

Visa NoVisa TypeHealth care required
188Business Innovation and Investment
400Temporary Work
403Temporary Work (international relations)
408Temporary Activity
417Working Holiday
461New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa
462Work and Holiday
476Skilled Recognised Graduate
482Temporary Skill Shortage
485Temporary graduate
489Skilled Regional
491Skilled Work Regional

Visitor Visas

Visa NoVisa TypeHealth care required
300Prospective Marriage Visa
590Student Guardian Visa
601Electronic Travel Authority
870Sponsored Parent (Temporary) Visa

Bridging Visas

Visa NoVisa TypeHealth care required
010Bridging Visa A (BVA)Depends on the visa you’re switching to.
020Bridging Visa B (BVB)
030Bridging Visa C (BVC)

Frequently asked questions

Do I need Overseas Visitor Health Cover?

Any Australian visa with an 8501 condition requires that you take out overseas visitor health cover. This includes many work and visitor visas, such as the 482 and 485 visas. To check the conditions of your visa, refer to your visa grant letter or the Department of Home Affairs website.

Will Overseas Visitor Health Cover meet visa condition 8501?

Not all providers offer OVHC that meets visa condition 8501, which specifically states you must maintain health insurance for the duration of your stay in Australia. Be sure to check with the provider that the policy they are recommending satisfies this requirement.

Who else can be covered by my Overseas Visitor Health Cover policy?

An OVHC policy can cover yourself, your partner and any dependent children who join you on your visit to Australia. Check your policy for age limits on coverage for dependent children.

Who sets the rules for visas and Overseas Visitor Health Cover?

The legal requirements for having OVHC are set by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs and apply to many visitor visas and working visas.

What isn't covered by Overseas Visitor Health Cover?

Things that OVHC does not cover include elective cosmetic surgeries, non-emergency ambulance transportation, assisted reproduction services (such as IVF) and any procedure not recognised by Medicare.

How does healthcare work in Australia?

Australia’s healthcare system is a dual system split between public and private. The public system is insured by the government through Medicare, which covers the entire cost of public hospital care for Australian citizens and permanent residents. The private system is made up of private hospitals and clinics. While Medicare covers a portion of private hospital care and other out-of-hospital clinic appointments (like general practitioner consultations), Private Health Insurance helps with cost of private services in hospital.

What is the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

The Reciprocal Health Care Agreement is a special agreement Australia has with a few specific countries, where emergency health care for citizens of those countries visiting Australia is covered through Medicare. Australian citizens visiting those countries likewise can get medically necessary emergency care covered through those nations’ specific healthcare systems. The following nations have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia:

  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Sweden
  • The Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • Norway
  • Slovenia
  • Malta
  • Italy
  • Finland

How does switching Overseas Visitor Health Cover work?

Once you find a policy you would like to switch to, you can purchase cover and inform the insurance provider you have an existing policy. Your new provider will cancel your current OVHC policy for you by sending a transfer request your previous provider.

After your old provider receives a transfer request, they must process it within 14 days, issue a transfer certificate and pay a refund on any premiums paid in advance (as long as you haven’t made any claims in that time).

When switching between Australian OVHC providers, any waiting periods you have completed won’t need to be served again unless your new policy has higher coverage or includes benefits you weren’t covered for before. If you’re switching from an overseas provider, you will have to re-serve any waiting periods.

You will still have health insurance while you switch, which helps you remain compliant with your visa.

What is a pre-existing medical condition?

A pre-existing condition is any health condition, ailment or illness you showed signs or symptoms for in a six-month period before starting your health insurance policy. This is evaluated by a doctor appointed by the health fund. Many OVHC policies cover pre-existing conditions and their related treatment, but it’s vital to check whether any waiting periods apply to treatment for your condition.

Won't my travel insurance cover medical expenses while I’m in Australia?

If you have a travel insurance policy for a trip to Australia, this may help cover some medical expenses. However, keep in mind that travel insurance won’t satisfy your visa requirements and you will still need OVHC.

You may find that a travel insurance policy provides other benefits you want, like the cost of cancelled flights or stolen luggage.

Will I have out-of-pocket expenses?

It’s likely you will still have some out-of-pocket expenses even with health insurance. This means that you may have to pay some portion of your medical bills yourself, as your insurance might not cover all of it. Your out-of-pocket costs will depend on your policy and the health services you use.

For in-hospital medical services through the public system, you will be covered up to the fee determined by the relevant State or Territory authority.  Public hospitals have one rate that includes all medical services while in hospital.

For out-of-hospital services like doctors and radiology, you will be covered for the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee. However, your service provider may choose to charge over the MBS fee, in which case you will have to pay the difference out of pocket.

For private hospitals your insurance may pay for your room and theatre fees, however individual medical services such as your surgeon and anaesthetist are billed separately. Your insurance will only cover costs up to a percentage of their MBS item fee, so you will be charged the difference out-of-pocket.

If your policy includes extras, your insurer will have either a percentage limit that they pay per benefit claimed or a dollar limit that they are willing to pay up to. Policies with a dollar limit are subject to Annual or sub-limits. This works the same for Australian residents who hold private health insurance Extras Cover.

Many insurance policies will also require that you pay an excess, which is a lump sum payment usually made per hospital visit. Some providers will allow you to pay a higher excess in exchange for lower premiums or vice versa. It is best to speak with your insurance provider directly to understand what out of pocket costs you may incur (if any) in your particular situation.

Compare Overseas Visitor
Health Cover today

Through Compare the Market, you can choose from a variety of OVHC providers here in Australia that can help you meet you visa conditions. Just as importantly, these policies can help provide a financial safety net should you need medical aid while you’re in Australia. Why not take a look today and see if you can find a policy to suit your needs?

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