Can travel insurance be used in place of OSHC when you study in Australia?

Unfortunately no. The primary reason you cannot use travel insurance bought overseas is that the Australian Government has mandated that Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is required by all students.  

The Australian insurance industry is regulated, ensuring that insurance providers have the financial resources to continue to deliver their services. Unfortunately it is impossible for the Australian Government to ensure that all overseas travel insurance providers can deliver the required services in a student’s time of need. 

Indeed, it would be difficult for the Australian Government to even confirm whether an overseas travel insurance provider was legitimate.  So while it may seem like an expensive annoyance to have to take out OSHC for the duration of your study, it is clearly necessary to deliver health insurance to international students in this way.  

Just because it is compulsory to take out OSHC, it doesn’t mean you don’t have choice. See all the OSHC providers in one place, and ensure you get the cover that is right for you at

Important: OSHC Waiting Periods in Australia

Under OSHC policies mandated by the Australian Government, OSHC insurers may impose qualifying/waiting periods for the following:

1. Treatment during the first 12 months of membership for pre-existing medical conditions,disabilities, and pregnancy-related services; and 
2. Treatment during the first 2 months of membership for pre-existing psychiatric conditions.

Waiting periods are deemed start from the day of arrival in Australia on a student visa. Not all policies impose the maximum waiting periods. You can compare OSHC providers on if waiting periods are important to you.  

It is important to know that you will not be able to claim for these items during the waiting period.


Concerns with your OSHC policy?

If you have a problem with your OSHC insurer, you can contact the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO). The PHIO provides a free and independent service to help consumers with health insurance problems and enquiries. 
Complaints must be about your OSHC.
You can contact the PHIO as follows:
Phone: 1800 640 695 (within Australia)
Phone: +61 28235 8777

Who doesn’t need OSHC cover to get a visa in Australia?

In order to study in Australia, it is a requirement for students to have OSHC. Due to deals respective governments have done amongst each other, the exceptions to this rule are students from Belgium; Norway; and Sweden.
Students from all other countries are required to have OSHC to fulfil the requirements of their student visa.  So if you have to have it, you might as well try to get it for the best price possible.
Get a quote and compare all OSHC providers on in just 5 seconds!

How do I find a free Doctor (“Bulk Billing”)

Finding a “Bulk Billing” doctor is a great way to save some money when you need to use medical services.
In Australia, bulk billing refers to the practice where the doctor receives their fee directly from the government through the Medicare system. So rather than have to pay, and then be reimbursed, the doctor gets paid by the government and the patient is not out of pocket.
There are two types of bulk billing:
1. With co-payment or gap, the patient only pays the amount above the MBS.
2. Full bulk billing: The patient pays nothing, it is all paid by the Australian government.
Why is this important for international students?Well, if you find a doctor’s practice which fully bulk bills with no gap, then you can visit the doctor with no out-of-pocket expenses – your OSHC provider will reimburse you for the full amount. The biggest hassle you will encounter is actually finding a doctor who does bulk bill. They are getting rarer and rarer as each year goes by.We recently found a directory of doctors that lists out bulk billing doctors – .If you know of any other resources for finding bulk billing doctors, leave them in the comments below!

What happens if my visa is rejected?

The reasons for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) rejecting a visa application are many and varied. Having your visa to study in Australia rejected can be very distressing, but your OSHC is one thing you do not have to worry about.  

In order to get your student visa to study in Australia, you will first need to purchase OSHC. Having an OSHC policy covering the entire period of your student visa is a pre-requisite for getting the student visa itself.  
If your visa to study in Australia is rejected, you will get a full refund of your OSHC.  In order to get your full refund, you will need to fill out a refund form, available from your insurer, and provide it to them in addition to your rejection letter from DIAC.

So in the event that your visa to study in Australia is rejected, there is one thing you do not need to worry about.  You will get a full refund of your OSHC.

Can I change my OSHC provider?

You can choose to take out OSHC with your institutions provider, or with any of the five Australian OSHC providers. You can compare all providers in the market at our website If you have already purchased your OSHC, you can transfer to another OSHC insurer at any time.
You are required to pay your OSHC in advance to get “visa-length cover” for the entire period you are intending to study in Australia. In this case, you will receive a pro-rata refund for the remaining cover you have. To obtain a refund you must provide proof to your previous insurer that you have a valid policy with a new OSHC insurer that overlaps the period covered by your previous OSHC insurer. 

Depending on the terms of your policy, you may incur a fee for cancelling your insurance. That sounds like a great topic for another Blog post… Keep your eye out for that post!  

When transferring to a new OSHC insurers, any periods of membership served with one OSHC insurer will count toward waiting periods with your new OSHC insurer, providing there is no lapse in membership.  If you would like to know more about switching your OSHC insurers and potentially how much you could get back in a refund, please visit our website

Is my OSHC impacted if I change institutions when in Australia?

One question that we have been asked many times is, “If I change institutions whilst I am an international student in Australia, do I have to change my OSHC?” The answer to this question is, “No”. While studying in Australia, it is a visa requirement that you hold an OSHC policy. Whilst most educational institutions sell OSHC to their students, OSHC itself is not tied to your educational provider. 

Some educational providers have preferred provider status which may provide limited extra value to students, which may be a reason to change OSHC providers when you are changing educational institutions. 

If you are going to change, you should first compare OSHC providers to ensure that you are getting the right cover at the right place. Of course, the best place to compare OSHC providers is right here at!

How much does it cost to study in Australia?

For many, studying in Australia is a life changing experience. Australia is a great country to live in, with great weather and friendly people. Unfortunately, one of the downsides to Australia is that it is one of the most expensive countries to live in anywhere in the world.  Many students underestimate the cost of living in Australia. Course fees are high, but there is so much more to be considered.  

Two Blog posts I recently came across do a reasonable job of spelling out what the other costs, in addition to your course fees, you will have to meet while studying in Australia.  The first post was written by Bobby Castro, the editor of the Australia Forum. 

Another interesting resource:  

The second post was written by an anonymous individual and while it is a little light on numbers, it is organised quite well:  What are your thoughts on cost of studying in Australia? Do your experiences and costs differ from those in the articles?

How do I renew a lapsed OSHC policy?

If your OSHC policy has expired, you are currently in breach of your student visa. This can have significant consequences for your ability to stay and study in Australia. Furthermore, if you become sick or are injured, you could be liable for very significant medical expenses for which you will not be covered by any insurance.  You should immediately obtain a new OSHC policy. Before doing so, you should of course compare all providers on 
All OSHC providers mandated by the Australian Government are compared in the one place. When you find the policy that best suits your needs, you can purchase it immediately. Typically, if a policy is purchased directly from, you will receive your policy within 15 minutes.

Can I use an overseas insurer for my health care?

No. Only Australian-registered private health insurers can offer OSHC. Furthermore, not all Australian insurers can offer OSHC, they must first have signed the OSHC Deed with the Australian Government.  This is because the Australian Government wants to be able to monitor and regulate insurers covering people living temporarily in Australia. 

The Government is not able to protect the interests of people insured by overseas insurance companies in the same way.  Here at OSHC Australia we compare all insurers able to offer OSHC to international students.

When will my visa be issued?

It is a visa requirement that from 1 July 2010, students must obtain OSHC for the proposed duration of their student visa. If you extend the length of your student visa, you must renew your OSHC policy. OSHC providers are obliged to provide cover for up to 5 years in respect of the proposed duration of the visa, however they may also choose to provide longer cover.According to the Department of Immigration & Citizenship, you can predict the end date of your visa using the following table:
Longer than 10 months and finishing at the end of the Australian academic year (November – December)
Your visa will usually be granted to March 15 of the following year.
Longer than 10 months (finishing January – October)
Your visa will usually be granted for two months longer than the duration of your course.
10 months or less
Your visa will usually be granted for one month longer than the duration of your course.
Further information regarding visa requirements is available at the Department of Immigration & Citizenship website.

I have a few unanswered questions …where do I go?

We spend a lot of time researching OSHC and general study in Australia resources. One quite useful resource on OSHC that we have come across is the Department of Health And Ageing’s FAQ resource on OSHC. If you have any questions about OSHC (that haven’t been answered on this blog!), you should check out to see if they have been answered here:  If you still can’t find the answer to your question, head on over to and drop us a support ticket.


What is the Overseas Students Ombudsman?

The Overseas Students Ombudsman investigates complaints about problems that overseas students have with private education and training in Australia.  If you have problems with your private education institution, you can contact the relevant Overseas Student Ombudsman for free advice. They are set up to handle these complaints, and are independent from the education providers themselves.  Contact details for the Overseas Student Ombudsman can be found on their website: 

You can even make a complaint in your home language.  If you are studying at a publicly-funded provider such as a university or TAFE you should contact the relevant State Ombudsman, details below:
ACT Ombudsman
NSW Ombudsman
Northern Territory Ombudsman
Queensland Ombudsman
South Australian Ombudsman
Tasmanian Ombudsman
Victorian Ombudsman
Western Australian Ombudsman

What are my rights after I finish study?

Work rights for international students in Australia change often. As we talk with international students, it is clear that this issue is one of the top 3 that concerns them. Are you confused about the new post-study work rights for international students?If you are confused, you can find out the most recent update to post-study work-rights here: 

One of the other issues at the top of mind for international students is cost of living whilst studying. If you want to save some money on your OSHC, you should check out our site (we can even help you if you already have your visa-length OSHC cover)!


I need some advice on Australian lifestyle…

If you are coming to Australia to study, there is one thing that you really need to know before you come: Australians love sport. In fact sport, either playing or watching, is the number one priority for many Australians. Cricket in summer, football (any one of the three codes) in winter, and soccer in between. There is always some form of sport on.One of the reasons you are coming to Australia to study, presumably, is to experience the way of life here. Inevitably, that will involve some sort of sporting participation. 

If you are not overly interested in sport, but want to be able to carry on a conversation with your fellow students when the topic turns to sport (and it will), you can check out The Roar.The Roar is a sports news and opinion site where both experts and fans can submit articles and comment on a range of different sports. You can very quickly get an understanding of the important happenings in a range of sports including Rugby, AFL, League, Soccer, Cricket, Cycling, Horse Racing, and a range of other sports.

You can check out The Roar at, if you are playing sport in Australia and are injured, your OSHC will cover the cost of any stay in hospital. You may still incur significant costs if you need physiotherapy or any affiliated services, as these are not covered by OSHC. So play safely!What are your favourite sports websites? Tell us in the comments below.

Cancelling my OSHC

You can only cancel your OSHC in certain circumstances. Obviously it is a requirement of your student visa that you maintain an active OSHC policy for the duration of your visa to study in Australia, so there are restrictions on the reasons for which you can cancel.  Most of the OSHC insurers that we have spoken to indicate that they will provide the refund to you within 10 business days, although we are aware that this time frame is often not met by certain insurers.
When can I ordinarily cancel my OSHC?
If you have made a mistake by inputting your name incorrectly;
If your student visa is refused. You will need to provide evidence in this case in the form of your DIAC visa refusal letter.
If you decide not to come to Australia. You will need to provide evidence in the form of your cancelled eCOE. 
You have another OSHC provider. You will need to provide evidence in the form of the confirmation of cover from the other OSHC provider.T
here may be other specific circumstances where you may be able to cancel your OSHC insurance. You should speak directly to your insurer if you need to cancel your insurance for reasons outside of the above.

Claiming money on my OSHC policy

How do I claim money back on my OSHC policy?
If you have paid out money for a medical service that is eligible to be refunded under your OSHC policy, you should contact your insurer directly. Insurers generally have different methods for claiming, but generally you will need to make a claim in writing – either online, via fax, or by post. The other alternative is to go into a branch of the insurer.
Before you call the insurers, make sure you have your Policy or Member number with you, as they will ask for it. From there, the customer service people at the respective insurers will tell you precisely how you can claim back your medical costs.

Visa length

How do I know the length of my visa?
Since July 2010, it has been a requirement that students have OSHC for the duration of their visa. Fortunately,the formula for determining the end date of an Australian student visa is really straight forward. Typically your visa will finish as per the table below.
10 months or less
Your date of entry to Australia
Course end date + 1 month
More than 10 months
Your date of entry to Australia
Course end date + 2 months
More than 10 months
Your date of entry to Australia
March 15 the following year
For more information:

Medical Benefits Schedule (“MBS”)

What is the MBS?
You may have noticed from your OSHC policy that benefits are mostly listed as a percentage of “MBS”. MBS stands for Medical Benefits Schedule, and it represents the amount that government pays to doctors when they perform the specified procedures in the Schedule on Australian citizens and permanent residents. In many cases doctors charge more than the MBS fee, which is where the Gap Fee concept arises.
How do I find out how much money I will get back?
You can find out what you will get back from your insurer by looking up the MBS amounts here at MBS Online.
If you would like to find out how much you will get back for some common procedures, such as visiting the doctor, you can find some common MBS items in this document: medicare_cheat_sheet.
How does it work?
Say you need to go to the doctor for a standard appointment. From the cheat sheet, you can see that the MBS Item number for this procedure is 23. You should look up this Item Number on MBS Online as it is always up to date. From MBS Online, you can determine that the MBS Benefit is $36.30. You speak to the doctor’s surgery, and they tell you that they will charge you $60 for a standard consult. Therefore, the gap amount that you will be out of pocket is $60 charged by doctor less $36.30 that your OSHC insurer will reimburse you = $23.70.


Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) Policy

Understanding Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) Policy 
OSHC is something almost every international student needs to purchase before studying in Australia. It costs a significant amount of money, yet it is often overlooked or not fully understood.  You actually have a choice of OSHC provider  – and understanding the options available to you could save you money. To help you get your head around OSHC, we’ve created this guide.
What is OSHC?
Overseas Students Health Cover (OSHC) is a mandatory health insurance designed to help students afford the costs of medical treatments they may need while studying in Australia.
Do I need to get OSHC?
All international students (Excluding Belgian, Norwegian and Swedish nationals) and their dependents (spouses and children under 18 years old) are required to have an OSHC policy for the duration of their stay in Australia. In most cases, an international student is a person who has a student visa.  Dependents cannot purchase their own OSHC policy, they need to be listed as a dependent on the main applicant’s policy.
How long do I need to be covered by OSHC?
International students need to have OSHC cover for the entire duration of their student visa. If a student renews their student visa, they must also extend their OSHC policy to cover the duration of the new visa period.  Read our blog post regarding visa length, for further help understanding on the timeframe you should be covered for
Which insurers can I purchase OSHC from?
Only Australian-registered private health insurers can offer OSHC. These are the 5 government-approved OSHC providers. You can compare all their prices and benefits on our site:
1. Australian Health Management (ahm)
3. Medibank Private
4. NIB
5. Allianz Global Assistance
Some important things to note: 
Where there is a reference to MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule), the cover you receive is a percentage of a ‘schedule fee’ (an amount the Australian government has assigned to each medical service they subsidise). 

Prescription medicine benefits are limited to $50 per pharmaceutical item to a maximum of $300 a year for a single membership ($600 for a family membership).

Some insurers may offer a different OSHC product in universities where they are a preferred partner.
How do I apply for OSHC?
When you apply to study, the education institution will normally have a preferred OSHC insurance provider. However, it is important to know that you can chose your own preferred OSHC provider.
How do I apply for OSHC?
When you apply to study, the education institution will normally have a preferred OSHC insurance provider. However, it is important to know that you can chose your own preferred OSHC provider.
To compare all 5 providers and purchase/apply for your OSHC, go to our homepage:
I have more questions, who can I talk to?
We’re here to help – our site has more information about OSHC and what each provider covers.
Phone: +61 7 333 1521

Cohort Solutions more than doubles growth and secures a place on the BRW 100 Fast Starters List

Australia, 28 October 2015: Holistic educationservices provider, Cohort Solutions’ innovativerange of products delivering value to international students, education agentsand providers, has secured number 36 on the BRW 100 Fast Starters List for 2015.

Source: Cohort Solutions more than doubles growth and secures a place on the BRW 100 Fast Starters List

International students offered prepaid sim cards before they arrive in Australia | Meld Magazine – Melbourne’s international student news website

BEFORE students leave their homes, they can buy a sim card offered by an Australian tech startup in their home country and save searching for the right plan once they arrive in Australia. Stephen Clarke reports.

Source: International students offered prepaid sim cards before they arrive in Australia | Meld Magazine – Melbourne’s international student news website