Why Having a Private Health Insurance in Australia is important.

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Healthcare in Australia

Healthcare may be different in Australia than in your home country. The healthcare system in Australia has two parts: the public health system (known as Medicare) and the private health system. Private health insurance means overseas visitors can use different parts of the Australian healthcare system for treatment. There are different levels of cover that you can chose from so you can get the care and protection you need while you’re in Australia and pay less or nothing at all.If you’re planning to apply for a work visa or a student visa in Australia, it’s essential to know that you are required to have private health insurance.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements and access to Medicare

Some countries have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia. These are:

  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Italy
  • The Netherland
  • Belgium
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Malta
  • Slovenia

If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you may be entitled to emergency medical treatment when visiting Australia under the public health system, Medicare. Check with Medicare to confirm all eligibility criteria.

However, Medicare may only cover any treatment that is deemed absolutely necessary in an emergency. Any other treatment you may need is your own responsibility and can be extremely costly. One day in the hospital can cost you over $1,000 just in hospital fees. Without overseas visitor health cover, you could find yourself thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Private Health Insurance for Work Visas

Common work visas that require private health insurance include the 482, 186, 494 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa, the 485 post higher education work visa (former post-study work stream), and the 407 Training visa. These are all temporary visas, while permanent work visas allow you to register with Medicare, eliminating the need for private coverage. However, having private insurance is always beneficial as it complements public Medicare services.

Services providers for overseas visitors are:



Australian Unity




Medibank Private

Nib health funds

Why choosing Bupa over other providers

BUPA provides two main types of coverage for work visas:

  1. Basic Hospital Cover: This covers hospital expenses recognized by Medicare, such as necessary surgeries and treatments. It also includes ambulance services, which is crucial as ambulance costs vary by state and are not always free in Australia*
  2. Hospital and Extras Cover: This includes hospital cover plus additional services like specialist consultations (optometrists, dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, etc.). These extra services are not usually covered by Medicare. With BUPA, the more you pay for your premium, the higher the reimbursement percentage for these specialist services.

Below is a breakdown of costs associated with Ambulance services in Australia as of 2023

New South Wales (NSW)

  • Call-out fee: $415
  • Additional charge: $3.74 per km
  • Maximum charge: $6,797


  • Free ambulance services


  • City trip: $1,306
  • Regional/rural trip: $1,927
  • Plane transport: $3,132
  • Helicopter transport: Up to $27,732

South Australia

  • Non-emergency call-out fee: $242
  • Emergency call-out fee: $1,085
  • Per km fee: $6.20

Western Australia

  • Emergency call-out fee: From $1,072

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

  • Emergency transport: $1,032
  • Non-transport emergency service: $715
  • Additional charge: $14 per km outside ACT

Northern Territory

  • Non-life-threatening emergency: $370
  • Life-threatening emergency: $815
  • Additional charge: $5.25 per km over 10 km


  • Free emergency ambulance services (third-party payment exceptions apply)

Monthly Premiums

BUPA’s private health insurance is paid monthly, which helps manage your budget while ensuring you have access to medical care when needed. This monthly payment structure makes it easier to incorporate into your lifestyle without significant financial strain.

Private Health Insurance for Student Visas

International students must have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) to get their visa approved. OSHC covers ambulance services, GP visits, hospital care, and some prescription medications. Unlike work visa insurance, the base services for OSHC are regulated by the government to protect students from exploitation.

OSHC Providers

Only a few select providers can offer OSHC, including:

  • BUPA Australia
  • ahm OSHC
  • Allianz Global Assistance
  • CBHS International Health
  • Medibank Private

Unlike work visa insurance, OSHC must be paid in full when applying for the visa, covering the entire study period. This upfront cost can be substantial, especially for families.

Waiting Periods

All private health insurance policies have waiting periods for certain treatments. Common waiting periods include:

  • 12 months for psychiatric services
  • 12 months for pregnancy and childbirth
  • 12 months for pre-existing conditions
  • Few weeks when it comes to Extra such as Physio or Dental Coverage.

Why Choose BUPA?

As an immigration agent with Green Wings Migration, I have consistently worked with BUPA and can vouch for their reliability and quality. Here’s why BUPA stands out:

  • Guaranteed Ambulance Reimbursement: Unlike other insurers, BUPA covers ambulance costs even in non-emergency situations.
  • Flexible Deductible Options: You can reduce your deductible to $0 while maintaining affordable premiums.
  • User-Friendly App: Manage your insurance easily through BUPA’s dedicated app, keeping track of costs and coverage.
  • Exclusive Discounts and Bonuses: Benefit from the BUPA Plus program.
  • Access to Selected Specialists: Receive care from specialists chosen by BUPA at favorable rates.

Get a Quote or Sign Up

Interested in a BUPA quote or want to sign up for a policy? Click on the logo to get started!

Considering Other Options?

If BUPA doesn’t meet your needs, that’s okay! There may be other reasons to choose a different provider, such as existing relationships with other insurers or specific policy features. While cost is an important factor, it’s crucial to weigh all pros and cons carefully. Remember, it’s better to be prepared and covered when you need it.

BUPA offers a range of insurance options tailored to your specific needs, ensuring you have the best possible coverage while in Australia. Choose BUPA for peace of mind and comprehensive health protection.

Disclaimer: Before you undertake any travel, it’s important to do your research. Check the terms of your visa and make sure you’re selecting the appropriate cover for your own individual circumstances.

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