March 8, 2024

Essential Health Insurances for Students and Backpackers in Australia


Navigating through unlimited opportunities and adventures in Australia as an international student or backpacker requires not just enthusiasm but also a layer of security. Whether you’re diving into the academic world or exploring the breathtaking landscapes, understanding the insurances available can safeguard your journey down under.

Understanding the Australian Healthcare System

The healthcare system in Australia, including Medicare, offers coverage for citizens and residents. However, for travellers and temporary visa holders from countries without a reciprocal healthcare agreement, securing comprehensive travel or health insurance is crucial to avoid potentially high medical costs.

Whether you’re a student, a backpacker on a working holiday, an au pair, a volunteer, or planning to stay in Australia long-term as an expatriate, there’s a variety of insurance types designed to cater to your specific needs. Each has its own set of coverages, exclusions, and considerations based on the nature of your stay, the activities you plan to engage in, and the level of protection you seek.

7  Reasons to Get Insurance for Your Journey to Australia

  1. High Medical Costs: Medical care in Australia is reflective of the country’s high living standards, making it quite costly. A straightforward doctor’s visit can set you back around £80, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Specialised care, dental treatments, and hospital stays are considerably more expensive. For example, a single day in hospital can cost over £1,500, not including any treatments or procedures. These costs underline the vital importance of health insurance to avoid potential financial hardships.
  2. Absence of Social Security Coverage: Travelling to Australia means leaving behind your home country’s healthcare safety net. Without local coverage, every medical consultation, treatment, or emergency service becomes an out-of-pocket expense. With the high standard and costs of healthcare in Australia, these expenses can quickly add up, leading to significant financial stress without insurance.
  3. Mandatory for Some Visas: For certain visa categories, such as student visas, having insurance is not merely advisable—it’s compulsory. The Australian government requires individuals on specific visas to have adequate health insurance for their stay’s duration. This mandate ensures that visitors can access necessary medical care without imposing undue pressure on the public health system or experiencing financial difficulties.
  4. Routine Ailments and Minor Injuries: Common health issues, often ignored, can pose significant concerns in Australia. A simple cold or a minor injury might require medical attention, incurring unexpected costs. Insurance ensures that you can seek timely medical care without worrying about expenses, preserving your health and keeping your travel plans intact.
  5. Accident Risks: Australia’s allure for adventure seekers is accompanied by its share of risks. Activities like diving, hiking, or exploring unknown roads can lead to accidents. The financial toll of such incidents, from medical treatments to potential repatriation, can be overwhelming without insurance. It serves as a financial safety net, covering unforeseen costs and offering support when needed.
  6. Support During Hospitalisation: Extended hospital stays can be daunting, especially away from home. Some insurance policies provide the invaluable benefit of covering travel and accommodation for a family member to be by your side. This support can offer considerable emotional and financial relief, ensuring you’re not alone during difficult times.
  7. Baggage Protection: Travel often involves carrying valuable items, from electronics to personal belongings. The loss or theft of baggage can lead to significant inconvenience and financial loss. Insurance that covers baggage loss, theft, or delays offers compensation and assistance, easing the burden of such incidents and allowing you to concentrate on your journey rather than the hassle of replacing lost items.

Health Insurance for International Students

Essential Health Insurances for Students and Backpackers in Australia. A group of people in graduation gowns and caps

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is compulsory for international students on a student visa in Australia. It provides medical and hospital insurance in Australia and contributes towards the cost of most prescription medicines and an ambulance in emergency situations. Given the high cost of healthcare in Australia, OSHC is vital for students, ensuring you are covered for visits to the doctor, hospital treatment, ambulance cover, and limited pharmaceuticals. Remember, the student visa Australia age limit doesn’t affect your eligibility for OSHC; it’s required regardless of age.

Providers such as Allianz Care Australia offer OSHC plans that include coverage for both private and public hospital admissions, ambulance services, doctors and specialists outside of the hospital, medical tests like X-rays and blood tests, and prescription medicine​​. However, it’s essential to note that standard OSHC plans do not cover treatments such as dental, optical, or physiotherapy. For these services, students may need to seek additional coverage​​.

To take out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) in Australia, you need to select a registered health insurer offering OSHC plans. You can compare different plans and prices from approved providers. Once you choose a provider, you can purchase your OSHC directly from their website. Remember, maintaining OSHC for the duration of your stay is a requirement of the Department of Home Affairs for international students​​.

The top 5 providers of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for international students 

  1. AHM OSHC : Known for its financial flexibility, offering plans that cater to different budgets and a wide network of medical providers.
  2. Allianz Care Australia : Known for a wide network of medical providers and comprehensive coverage including emergency and assistance services.
  3. BUPA Australia : Offers extensive health and wellness support services along with a range of OSHC plans.
  4. CBHS International Health : Stands out for its comprehensive coverage and 24-hour health support line, focusing on a personalized service approach.
  5. Medibank Private : is one of the largest providers, offering extensive network access and innovative services like telehealth consultations.

These providers are registered and offer various plans to meet the needs of international students in Australia, ensuring compliance with visa requirements and access to medical services​​.

Travel Insurance for Backpackers

Essential Health Insurances for Students and Backpackers in Australia. A group of backpackers giving each other a high five

Backpackers exploring Australia’s vast landscapes should consider travel insurance. This type of insurance covers a multitude of scenarios including trip cancellations, lost luggage, travel delays, and importantly, medical emergencies. For those on a backpacker visa in Australia or contemplating a backpacker visa extension, travel insurance offers peace of mind, allowing you to immerse fully in the Australian experience without the looming worry of unexpected expenses.

Chapka Assurance and CCM Assurance offer specialised insurance for European backpackers, each with its unique benefits. Chapka‘s Cap Adventure and Cap Working Holiday policies cater to those on extended travels or working holidays, providing comprehensive coverage including medical, sport activities, and trip cancellations. On the other hand, CCM Assurance focuses on health and travel insurance for a broad spectrum of travel purposes, offering the Student & Working Holiday Cover which includes medical expenses, repatriation, and coverage for personal belongings, with specific options for pandemic-related issues. Both companies aim to ensure European backpackers enjoy their adventures with peace of mind, supported by tailored insurance solutions.

For backpackers from other countries looking into travel insurance options, it’s essential to consult with providers in your home country or seek international insurers that offer coverage tailored to your specific needs and travel destinations. Policies and coverage can vary significantly, so finding a plan that aligns with your travel activities and offers adequate protection is crucial.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA)

Essential Health Insurances for Students and Backpackers in Australia. A group of people in white coats putting their hands together

Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with certain countries, allowing citizens from these nations to access Medicare and receive medical care while in Australia. This can reduce or eliminate the necessity for private health insurance for visitors from these RHCA countries during their stay in Australia. For detailed information on which countries are included and the specifics of the RHCA, you can visit the Department of Home Affairs and Services Australia websites.

Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCA) with the following countries: Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Citizens from these countries may be eligible for certain Medicare benefits during their stay in Australia, which can reduce the need for private health insurance for short stays. However, it is important to check the specifics of what is covered under these agreements, as coverage can vary and might not encompass all medical services.

If you have any questions about it, feel free to contact us.