When applying for a Temporary Working visa in Australia, you firstly need to ask yourself – are you covered by Medicare, Australia’s public health system? And the answer – well, it depends on whether you're from a reciprocal country.
What is a reciprocal country?
A reciprocal country has a health care agreement with Australia, which entitles its residents to receive emergency treatment in a public hospital anywhere in Australia. The key word here is ‘emergency’. Countries with reciprocal health care agreements are: New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. However, it’s important to note that students from Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland aren’t covered by agreements with those countries.
If you’re from one of these countries and you have successfully enrolled in Medicare, then your Medicare eligibility automatically meets the legal requirements for your visa, so you don’t need to take out an Overseas Visitors Cover (OVC) policy solely for that purpose.
Why would I need private health insurance then?
We always encourage international visitors to take out an OVC policy, simply because Medicare is good, but it isn’t perfect. With Medicare you will only covered for medically necessary treatment in a public hospital. You won’t be able to choose your own doctor, and you also won’t be covered for:
- Treatment in a private hospital,
- Non-emergency doctor visits; or
- Extras services like dental, optical, chiro or ambulance transport.
For example our popular Saver Options Extras cover starts from a tiny 96 cents a day* and not only gives you cover for urgent and non-urgent ambulance services, but it also includes 22 other commonly used services such as general dental, optical, physio, chiro and pharmacy. The annual cost for a single Saver Options policy is just $351.35, so when you consider the price of urgent ambulance transport can cost as much as $900, it makes financial sense too.
What if I'm from a reciprocal country, but applying for a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) outside of Australia?
You cannot enrol in Medicare until you have arrived in Australia. This means that if you're applying for a 457 visa from outside of Australia, you will still need to arrange complying insurance to meet your visa requirements. If you then successfully enrol in Medicare after your arrival in Australia, you can then cancel your OVC health cover.
What if I’m from a reciprocal country, but earning over $90k?
If you're currently earning over $90,000 while working here in Australia, you may also incur the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) at tax time next July. To reduce the MLS you'll pay next year, and avoid it completely in the 2016-17 financial year, we strongly recommend that you purchase a domestic hospital policy in addition to an Overseas Visitors Cover (OVC), as your OVC is not considered an adequate tax exemption product by the Australian Tax Office. In fact, our GoldVital Hospital policy, was designed as a tax saving product and is the lowest priced in Australia. It’s important to note however, that 457 visa holders, would not be eligible to make an actual claim on a domestic policy, but the amount you'll save in tax (compared to the price of that supplementary policy) means it's definitely worth considering. For more information, please visit our Make a Tax Saving webpage.
Want to talk to a real person?
We understand how confusing this can be; so if you'd prefer to speak to one of our product experts we’ll be happy to review your circumstances and provide advice on the correct health insurance policies for you. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 1300 13 40 60.
Our contact centre is open Monday to Friday at the following times across Australia:
- 5:30am - 5:30pm - WA
- 7:00am - 7:00pm - NT
- 7:30am - 7:30pm - QLD
- 8:00am - 8:00pm - SA
- 8:30am - 8:30pm - NSW, ACT, TAS, VIC
- International timezone I GMT +8 hrs (if you're contacting us from another part of the world, please dial +618 9227 4200)
*The daily pricing (above) is based on a single policy in WA paid by direct debit on an annual basis after deducting a 4% annual discount. This pricing is correct as of 20 March 2017. Prices may vary for other states and territories.