How to make changes to your cover and apply for extensions and refunds
Leave of absence
If you have been studying outside Australia for three months or more and plan to return to complete your studies, you can apply for a partial refund of your health insurance premiums for the time you were away by applying for a leave of absence.
Changing your start date and extending your policy
You can change the start date and extend your health insurance cover at any time before your arrival in Australia. We will send you an email confirmation of the change, along with a new verification letter for student records to match.
Cancellations and refunds
If you have completed your entire course while outside of Australia, you’re entitled to a full refund of your health insurance premiums. If you have started your course in Australia but now plan to complete it outside of the country, you are also entitled to a partial refund.
How can I help protect myself and others?
You can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by:
- Staying home and isolating yourself from people outside your household if you are unwell.
- Getting a full course of COVID-19 vaccines to protect yourself and others around you. This means at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, and a booster dose when it’s available to you.
- Keeping your distance (at least 1.5m) from others, especially from anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
- Coughing and sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your elbow. (Immediately throw any tissues you’ve used into the rubbish bin and wash your hands.)
- Regularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using alcohol-based sanitisers (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) if soap and water are not available.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects you touch often (like phones and workspaces).
- Opening doors and windows to keep areas well ventilated with fresh outdoor air
Where can I find the latest COVID-19 advice?
Government advice is updated regularly and may change depending on which state or territory you’re currently in. For the most up-to-date information applicable to you, please visit the page for your state or territory below:
- New South Wales: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19
- Victoria: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/
- Queensland: https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/
- South Australia: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/
- Western Australia: https://www.wa.gov.au/government/covid-19-coronavirus
- Tasmania: https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/
- Northern Territory: https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/
- Australian Capital Territory: https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/
Do I need to wear a face mask?
- Follow your local laws and wear a face mask if it’s mandatory to do so.
- Wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you in areas where there’s community transmission, and physical distancing is difficult, like on a bus or train.
- Wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you if you’re in an area with community transmission, and physical distancing is difficult, like on a bus or train.
- Cloth or disposable surgical masks can be used. Make sure they’re well-fitted around your nose, chin and the sides of your face.
- Cloth masks can be washed in the washing machine with other clothes, or hand-washed using soap and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth.
- Dry the cloth mask in the clothes dryer or in fresh air before you re-use it.
- Clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub (made up of over 60% alcohol or 70% isopropanol) after handling used face masks.
What are some of the usual signs of COVID-19?
- Fever (high temperature)
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
Other symptoms can include runny nose, acute blocked nose (congestion), headache, muscle or joint pains, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of sense of smell, altered sense of taste, loss of appetite and fatigue. Some people can have no symptoms at all.
Remember a TGA-approved COVID-19 test can tell if you have the virus.
If you’re worried that you may have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19 follow local government advice regarding quarantine and testing relevant to your type of contact.
If you start to feel unwell and develop flu-like symptoms – such as fever, coughing, sore throat, shortness of breath – seek medical help right away. Don’t just turn up to a medical centre, call ahead first. Tell the doctor – also called a General Practitioner (GP) – about your symptoms and travel or contact history.
Alternatively, you can call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for further instructions.
FAQs for Bupa overseas students and overseas visitors
Am I covered for COVID-19 testing?
I need to take a COVID-19 PCR test prior to returning to my home country. Am I covered for this test?
What do I do if I feel unwell?
Overseas students and visitors should call ahead to a doctor (GP) or contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 if they are unwell and suspect exposure to COVID-19.
When should I go to the hospital emergency department?
If you have a serious illness or injury, or have difficulty breathing, call an ambulance service right away on 000 (triple zero). If you think you need help, but it’s not life-threatening, call ahead to your doctor (GP) for advice rather than going to the emergency department.
I need to see a doctor but I don’t want to attend face-to-face. Are telehealth services available?
Yes, the new Government COVID-19 telehealth services are available to current Bupa OVC and OSHC members with up-to-date premium payments. If you have cover for these services and have served your waiting periods, you’ll be able to receive care through a video or telephone call where clinically appropriate – you can call us to check if you’re eligible.
I have a planned procedure coming up, what should I do?
Get in touch with your hospital and/or doctor to discuss any upcoming procedures you have planned, so you can confirm they’re going ahead.
Am I covered for COVID-19?
Overseas students and visitors are covered for medical services provided in and out of hospital, including GP doctor visits and tests (e.g. pathology) as well as prescription medicines. This applies if the service is recognised by Medicare, has a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item number attached, and is not an excluded service. Please note waiting periods, fund and policy rules apply.
For Bupa OSHC:
Coverage is up to 100% of the MBS fee. There’s no change in coverage for in-patient or out-patient medical services specific for COVID-19 but if in doubt, call us to check on 1800 888 942. You can find a Bupa-friendly doctor here www.bupa.com.au/find-a-doctor..
For Bupa OVC:
Coverage is from 100% of the MBS fee up to 100% of the cost, depending on the product. There’s no change in coverage for in-patient or out-patient medical services specific for COVID-19, but if in doubt call us to check on 134 135.
I need to take a COVID-19 PCR test prior to returning to my home country. Am I covered for this test?
If the virus is contracted here and I need to be hospitalised in Australia, will this be covered?
Yes, you’ll get all the standard product benefits available to all Bupa OSHC and OVC members. COVID-19 won’t change your hospital admission benefits. Waiting periods apply for pre-existing conditions. Fund and policy rules also apply.
If COVID-19 has been contracted overseas, does that mean it’s a pre-existing condition* for treatment?
We’ll cover overseas students and visitors for outpatient medical services such as GP doctor visits and tests (e.g. pathology). Fund and policy rules apply though, and each case will be assessed individually (you may need to complete the standard pre-existing condition assessment).
If you’re admitted to hospital, you’ll need to have the standard pre-existing condition assessment. If it’s determined you had signs or symptoms in the 6 months prior to joining or upgrading your cover, then the 12-month waiting period will apply. We understand every case is unique so they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis through the analysis of medical certificates or records. Fund and policy rules also apply.
As COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic, will restrictions be placed on my OSHC or OVC cover?
There are NO additional restrictions on OVC or OSHC cover because of the virus being declared a pandemic, but there are some restrictions on travel insurance policies.
I’m an international visitor to Australia. Am I eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccination?
Yes. The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone in Australia, regardless of your visa type or status. The Australian Government is covering all costs associated with COVID-19 vaccination so there’ll be no up-front payments or out-of-pocket expenses, and you won’t need to make a health insurance claim. Visit the Department of Health website for more information.
I don’t have a Medicare card. How can I receive a free vaccination?
You don’t need a Medicare card to receive a free COVID-19 vaccination. You’ll be able to receive a free COVID-19 vaccination at a Commonwealth or state/territory vaccination clinic. The Department of Health Vaccine Eligibility Checker will display participating clinics for non-Medicare card holders.
When can I be vaccinated?
You can receive a free COVID-19 vaccination when you’re eligible. You can use the Department of Health eligibility checker to find out when you can get your free vaccination.
Where can I be vaccinated?
My doctor's clinic has advised I must pay upfront for my vaccination and claim against my health insurance. Is this true?
Will I need to show my Bupa membership card when I receive my vaccination?
No. The vaccine is free for everyone in Australia. You don’t need to show your Bupa membership card or make a health insurance claim when you receive your vaccination.
Where can I find information in other languages about COVID-19 vaccines?
You can find translated information about COVID-19 vaccines at the Department of Health website.
Studying in Australia
I’m in Australia and my institution has changed my start date, can I suspend my OSHC policy?
If you’re an overseas student who has been told to delay your studies for a few weeks and you’re already in Australia, you can’t suspend your policy as it’s a condition of your visa that you maintain OSHC. If you haven’t arrived in Australia, you can contact us to move your OSHC start date to match your new arrival date.
I’m in Australia, but my studies are no longer going ahead. Can I cancel my policy and return back to my home country?
Yes, you can cancel your policy and the Bupa standard cancellation and refund rules will apply. Supporting evidence will be required like travel documentation or a course withdrawal letter from your place of study. Call us to find out more on 1800 888 942.
I can’t enter Australia; can I move my policy start date?
If you’re still coming to Australia to study or work but need to change your start date, all you need to do is show us evidence, like your new visa grant notice or a record of movement from the Department of Home Affairs, to show you haven’t entered Australia.
I’m no longer travelling to Australia; can I cancel my policy?
Yes, you can cancel your OVC policy and the Bupa standard cancellation and refund rules will apply. Supporting evidence will be required such as a visa cancellation notice.
For those on a valid student visa, you must maintain an overseas student health cover to meet your student visa requirements. You can cancel your policy if your visa has been cancelled and the Bupa standard cancellation and refund rules will apply. Supporting evidence will be required such as a visa cancellation notice. If you are completing online study overseas, you can’t cancel your policy unless you have also cancelled your visa and will no longer be returning to Australia.
I’m no longer travelling to Australia as I’m completing my studies online in my home country. Can I cancel my policy?
If you’re completing online study overseas, you can’t cancel your policy unless you have also cancelled your visa and will no longer be returning to Australia. We’ll also need to see evidence of this.
Where can I find out further information on my visa status?
You’ll need to contact the Department of Home Affairs at www.homeaffairs.gov.au.
Where can I get advice on travelling outside of Australia?
The Smartraveller site has all the latest travel advice www.smartraveller.gov.au.
Can I get some mental health support to help me through this?
Yes, there’s support available.
Bupa OSHC covers psychology and counselling services through your doctor when you’re on a GP Care Plan referral. This gives you access to up to 10 individual and 10 group sessions. Advantage OSHC covers an additional mental health benefit outside of a GP Care plan (yearly limits, waiting periods, fund and policy rules apply). Find out more here.
Some Bupa OVC products cover mental health services (waiting periods, fund and policy rules apply). Refer to individual products for coverage. Find out more here.
The following additional resources are also worth checking out:
- Bupa Student Advice Line - for Bupa OSHC members only (1300 884 235)
- Lifeline Australia (13 11 14)
- Beyond Blue (1300 224 636)
- Headspace (1800 650 890)
- Kids Helpline for those under 25 years old (1800 55 1800)
Where can I find more information?
- The Australian Government has released resources for international students to stay informed www.studyinaustralia.gov.au
- The Department of Health has prepared information for universities, higher education and vocational educational facilities www.health.gov.au
- There are COVID-19 resources translated in a range of languages other than English available from the Department of Health www.health.gov.au
- The Department of Home Affairs has a dedicated site for COVID-19 and Australian visas, also available in range of languages other than English www.homeaffairs.gov.au
There are lots of good sources for trusted information including:
We’re still here when you need us
Last updated: 18 January 2022