Do You Need Private Health Insurance for Your Visitor Visa?

Australia is a wonderful and popular country to visit. With pristine beaches, fascinating wildlife and plenty of sun to look forward to, the last thing on your mind might be how you would pay for health cover if you needed it!

As with all overseas travel, it’s vital to ensure you will be protected in the incidence of illness or accident when visiting Australia. For those entering Australia on a non-working or tourist visa find out what you are entitled to, what you need, and what you need to look out for when purchasing a health insurance policy.

Different types of visitor visa

One factor that determines the level of health insurance protection you will need is the type of visitor visa you have. There are six different classes of visitor visa for Australia:

  • Electronic Travel Authority: This allows you to visit Australia for personal or business reasons such as attending conferences or trade fairs, but not to work here. You can visit as many times as you want within one year and stay for up to three months each visit.
  • eVisitor: This allows you to visit as a tourist or for voluntary working purposes You can stay for up to three months at a time within a 12-month period. You can’t work for profit on this visa, but some voluntary work may be allowed.
  • Transit visa: This allows you and any dependent children to travel through Australia on route to somewhere else for no more than 72 hours.
  • Visitor visa: Commonly known as the visitor visa 600, this allows you to visit as a tourist or business visitor for up to 3, 6 or 12 months. Each visa has different conditions depending on individual circumstances.
  • Work and holiday visa/ Working holiday visa: These are both for young people aged 18-30 who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to one year. Different countries are eligible for each of these visas.

When is health insurance for visitors required?

Different types of visas carry different health insurance requirements, so it’s vital that you check before you travel.

Health insurance is required for any type of visitor visa to be granted if your country does not have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia. However, the Australian government strongly recommends that all visitors take out private health insurance before they travel.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements and access to Medicare

Some countries have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia. These are:

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

If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you may be entitled to emergency medical treatment when visiting Australia under the public health system, Medicare. Check with Medicare to confirm all eligibility criteria.

However, Medicare may only cover any treatment that is deemed absolutely necessary in an emergency. Any other treatment you may need is your own responsibility and can be extremely costly. One day in the hospital can cost you over $1,000 just in hospital fees. Without overseas visitor health cover, you could find yourself thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Tips for choosing health insurance

Treatments covered under visitor health insurance vary between different providers and policies; with Bupa you can choose between hospital only cover and hospital with extras. We also cover you 100% in the event you require emergency ambulance services by our recognised providers.

Our extras package can help cover the cost of other types of treatment, such as if you need to see a dentist, physiotherapist, chiropractor or optometrist during your stay subject to waiting periods, fund rules and annual limits.

Things to look out for

Restrictions apply to all healthcare policies for overseas visitors. Most policies will not cover treatment which is covered by compensation or damages, such as if you’ve been injured in an accident. Treatment you have pre-arranged before arriving in Australia, such as if you have a condition that needs constant management, may also not be covered. Always check the full terms and conditions of your policy.

Make sure you’re fully aware of any waiting periods that apply to your policy. Waiting periods are the minimum time you need to have held your policy before it will cover any medical expenses. Age restrictions may also apply.

Before you undertake any travel, it’s important to do your research. Check the terms of your visa and make sure you’re selecting the appropriate cover for your own individual circumstances. This will give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy your time in Australia to the fullest.

Still got questions?

Visit our FAQs. We answer some general questions on healthcare and insurance.

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