Victor Olet knows health and wellbeing can’t come second to a strict student budget.
The Kenyan PHD student and chemical engineering graduate at Perth’s Curtin University put up with painful toothaches to avoid a hefty dental fee in Australia.
He had hoped to go home to Kenya to have the work done in 2020, but COVID-19 put his plans on hold. His toothache however – couldn’t wait.
“The pain had just accumulated and unfortunately, by the time I went to the dentist I’d left it too late and as well as some fillings, I had to have some teeth removed as well,” says Olet.
Fortunately, Olet did secure a Top Extras 60 policy with his Bupa Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), which meant when he visited a Members First dental practice, he was able to claim 60% of his dental bill, up to his annual limits.
“It did cover a significant amount of what I paid to have the work done,” he adds.
Olet says Bupa’s on-campus student support team at Curtin University helped him find the most affordable way to have his dental work taken care of. “I just sat down with the Bupa representative Lily and she talked me through all the different options for extras cover,” says Olet. “She was very helpful in helping me navigate all that, which I frankly would have had a lot of difficulty doing online.”
Zelda Zheng, National Manager of Bupa On-Campus Partnerships says it’s common for students to delay dental and other health issues because of the expense and difficulty navigating the Australian health system.
She says COVID-19 has compounded the issue.
“In the past students could choose to return to their home country to see a dentist or other health professional they're familiar with,” says Zheng. “Being here they have to try to find a new dentist or doctor they trust, who doesn’t charge an exorbitant amount.”
“When budgets are already tight, students don't want to spend money on dentists,” says Zheng. “So, what started as a minor problem which could have been easily treated, can become a lot more severe.”
Zheng says Bupa’s dedicated OSHC support team can help overcome some of the barriers to health in Australia.
“International students say to us Australia's medical system is very complicated,” she says. “Unlike in some countries services like dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists aren’t covered by the public health system (Medicare).”
Olet shared his story to encourage other students to take out extras cover, to ensure they can access treatment they need – when they need it.
“Students tend not to do it understandably because of finances and all that,” he says. “But it's really important we look after our dental health and our overall health with a little bit of an extra payment.”
“I would encourage other students to get extras cover, even just the most basic one can make a big difference if you need some dental work done.”
Visit our OSHC Student Hub for information on your cover plus tips on what to do if you’re sick, how to make claims and more.