A comparison of Overseas Student Health Cover

Alison Coelho1

1Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health, Richmond, Australia

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is health insurance for international students.  It is a visa requirement for overseas students to have OSHC for the duration of their student visa.  The Deed for Provision of OSHC is a legal document produced by the Commonwealth, which sets out the minimum conditions that registered health providers must comply with in order to provide OSHC policies. The health funds that are currently covered under the deed include: AHM, Allianz, Bupa, Medibank, NIB.

Navigating health fund policy and marketing documents is difficult. Getting a clear understanding of potential costs involved in accessing healthcare and medicines is impossible through published material. For many international students it is an added layer of difficulty of not having English as a first language nor having experience navigating healthcare in Australia. The majority of providers do not subsidise oral contraceptive pills, nor provide support for pregnancy or termination of pregnancy services within the first year of cover.  Treatment and medical prevention (where available) of blood borne viruses (BBVs) are only covered up to a point, though these interventions usually require ongoing use and can be detrimental if discontinued prematurely. It is recommended that students contact their health insurance provider with costs of services, to find out how much the insurer will cover and therefore how much they will be out of pocket.  It is also recommended that advocacy be undertaken to the Commonwealth government to change the DEED to include full coverage of sexual and reproductive health services and medicines, such as contraception, pregnancy related services, screening of BBVs/STIs and treatment and medical prevention for BBVs/STIs, so as to promote health and prevent the onward transmission of BBVs/STIs.


Alison Coelho is the Co- Manager of the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH), Manager of the Multicultural Drug & Alcohol partnership and Manger of the Multicultural Health and Support Services (MHSS).  MHSS is the only state-wide program that aims to prevent HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and viral Hepatitis amongst high prevalence refugee and migrant communities across Victoria.  She has a background in Sociology and Community Development.

Alison is a sitting member of the Victorian Ministerial Blood Borne Viruses Advisory Committee, a member of the Victorian Hepatitis B Alliance (VHBA) and former Board member of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO).  She is the founding member and Chair of the Australian Multicultural BBV/STI Alliance (AMBA), and the Chair of the International Students Sexual Health Network.

Alison has significant Local Government experience, coordinating population based health planning, and developing and implementing the first prevention based Health Plan in the State. For well over two decades she has been an advocate on issues impacting refugee and migrant communities.  As a consultant, she has provided advice on strategic partnerships, planning for innovation and change as well as whole of organisation inclusion policy development. Having worked overseas, Alison is committed to addressing the social determinants of health at a systemic level and is an advocate for human rights and health equity.

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