Firstly, it is important to know that you do have choice in who you get your OSHC cover from while you study in Australia. You are not obliged to use the OSHC provider your educational institution recommends.
OSHC is a product designed to assist international students meet the costs of medical treatment they may need while studying in Australia. It has been mandated by the Australian government that all international students in Australia, with a few exceptions, must have an OSHC policy for the duration of their Student Visa.
Primarily, OSHC provides for payments up to the current Medical Benefits Schedule. Essentially, this means that international students receive similar medical cover to Australian residents under their OSHC policies. The cover is base-level cover only.
The Australian medical landscape has two streams, public and private. Public healthcare is generally provided free of charge to Australians although more and more medical practitioners are pricing their services above the MBS, meaning a "gap" fee will need to be paid. In the private system, doctors essentially charge what the market will pay. As you would expect, generally service is better in the private health system. Having said that, for the most part, the private health system uses the same facilities as the public health system - in Australia going private is usually a choice related to access to medical personnel, rather than gaining access to medical facilities.
Separate health insurance, over and above OSHC, can be entered into in order to cover the cost of using the private health system. It should be noted that more and more, private health fund rebates do not cover the private medical practitioners' fees, so there will likely be out of pocket expenses, even with private health insurance on top of OSHC cover.
At a minimum, OSHC policies must cover the following:
OSHC policies cannot cover the following expenses:
Students must obtain OSHC cover for the duration of their proposed student visa. If you extend your visa, you must renew your OSHC policy.
Many universities and education providers have a preferred provider deal with a specific insurer. Whilst every student has choice in which OSHC provider they use, we found that many students went with the default option, either because they wanted the simplest option, or because they were unaware that they had choice.
Some of the benefits of taking your policy with the preferred provider include:
You should confirm who the preferred provider is for your university and investigate any extra benefits they may provide to students when you compare OSHC policies. Then you should decide whether those extra benefits outweigh the cost differential of the policies offered by the preferred partner.