Top-rated Overseas Student & Working Visa Health Cover 2022

International students and workers are once again arriving in Australia, now that our borders have reopened. But to qualify, visa holders must have private health insurance. Canstar’s experts have crunched the numbers and have come up with their list of top-rated Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and Working Visa Health Cover policies.

2022 Outstanding Value Awards at a glance

Numbers crunched

Overseas Student Health Cover – 6 providers, 6 products
Working Visa Health Cover – 11 providers, 47 products

Outstanding Value Award winners

Overseas Student Health Cover: um, Medibank Private

Working Visa Health Cover: nib (IMAN)

Until recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the majority of overseas students and workers intending to travel here to delay their plans, due to government restrictions designed to reduce the impact of the virus in Australia. But now that the bans on travel for vaccinated visa holders have been lifted, overseas students are once again filling the halls of Australian learning institutions, and working visa holders are back to help with economic recovery efforts.

This ABS graph highlights the change in international arrivals and departures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, March 2022.

However, one of the conditions of overseas students and some working visas is that overseas students and workers have adequate private health cover as they cannot access Medicare-funded health services, according to the Australian Government. This cover is collectively referred to as Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) and includes:

  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and
  • Working Visa Health Cover.

But not all private health insurance providers in Australia offer such policies, and there are some differences between those that do.

What are OSHC and Working Visa Health Cover?

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and Working Visa Health Cover are specific types of health insurance that may be needed in order to qualify for a visa to study or work in Australia. According to the Australian Government, all overseas students and some working visa holders are required to take out this cover, and other working visa holders may choose to do so as well.

These policies pay part or all of the cost if you have to, for example, visit the doctor, go to hospital, be transported in an ambulance, or buy certain pharmacy medicines.

Why do certain visa holders need private health insurance in Australia?

Australian healthcare providers fall roughly into one of two categories:

  • Public health system: Australia has a government-run public health system and a publicly-funded universal health care insurance scheme called Medicare, which helps pay for healthcare costs. Australian citizens or permanent residents, some special types of visa holders and New Zealand citizens can access Medicare-funded services such as subsidized GP visits and treatment at public hospitals when in Australia.
  • Private health system: There are also private hospitals and healthcare providers, which can be accessed either via upfront payment for services or through a private health insurance arrangement. This type of insurance covers some or all of certain healthcare costs, such as staying in a private hospital.

Generally speaking, visitors to Australia have to pay for healthcare provided by either of those systems.

Visitors who have a special condition listed on their visa called ‘8501: Health Cover’ must have a specific type of private health insurance policy before they can enter the country. Examples include visa subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) and visa subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate), as well as visa subclass 500 (Student). The type of policy could vary according to the type of visa.

Exceptions include visitors whose home country is part of a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, or those who hold a specific type of visa. These visitors may be able to access free or subsidized services in the public health system, but may still have to pay for care in the private health system, and may want to consider OVHC.

The Australian Government notes that you can’t enrol in Medicare until you have arrived in Australia, meaning you may need to obtain OVHC if it is a condition of your visa, even if you think you’re eligible to access Medicare.

Additionally, the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs recommends that any visitor to Australia explore health insurance options and consider taking out OVHC, even if it isn’t a visa condition.

Canstar’s 2022 Overseas Student and Working Visa Health Cover Awards

What are Canstar’s Star Ratings and Awards?

Each year, Canstar’s expert Research Team uses a sophisticated methodology to review Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) and Working Visa Health Cover policies in Australia. Ratings Manager Joshua Sale said the team considers the costs and features of policies on our database that offer health insurance to international residents who are in Australia to study or work. After comparing all eligible policies and providers, the Research Team issues:

  • Star Ratings: Up to a 5-Star Rating for each policy (with 5 Stars representing the top-rated policies). You can view the OSHC Star Ratings on our comparison tables, which could help you to form a shortlist of policies when it comes time to obtain a quote.
  • Awards: In addition, the committee bestows awards on providers found to offer outstanding value across the range of consumer profiles considered in the Star Ratings.

The award-winning providers in 2022 are…

Overseas Student Health Cover 2022 Award Winners – ahm and Medibank

2022 OSHC Award winners

Working Visa Health Cover 2022 Award Winner – nib (IMAN)

2022 WVHC Award winner

Cover image source: Alex Erofeenkov/

About Canstar’s Research team

Canstar’s Research team provides the expertise that powers our Star Ratings and Awards, designed to help consumers make better-informed financial decisions. As Australia’s biggest financial comparison site, Canstar researches and rates products from more than 780 brands, across more than 30 finance categories. Our expert researchers analyze each product we rate by comparing price and features, with the top products being recognized with a 5-Star Rating. Our Star Ratings are made available for consumers to view for free via Canstar’s comparison tables. Providers whose products perform strongly in our Star Ratings may be recognized with an Outstanding Value Award.

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