Every year, Victoria hosts thousands of international students from around the world.
Studying overseas can be a very exciting time. However, finding and accessing suitable healthcare services can be quite confusing.
Overseas Student Health Cover
If you are an international student studying in Victoria, you probably have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
OSHC is private insurance to help you cover the costs of medical treatment, hospital care, and some prescription medications you may need while in Australia. This insurance might be provided through somewhere like BUPA, Medibank, Australian Health Management, NIB or Allianz.
Each OSHC provider will have a range of plans available, so contact your provider to check you are covered for what you might need. You should ask them about waiting periods, exclusions and other limitations on your plan – for example, many plans do not cover pregnancy-related care for your first year.
If you’re from a country with a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA) you might receive some Medicare benefits, also known as Reciprocal Medicare.
If you don’t have health cover in Australia, medical services can be very expensive.
Paying for treatment and medication
When you need medical treatment, there are two options for payment:
- Pay the healthcare provider (eg. doctor clinic) directly, then get refunded by your OSHC insurer
- “Direct billing” – where the clinic will send your bill directly to your OSHC insurer. This can reduce any payment you might need to make on the day of the appointment. Check with individual clinics if they have an agreement with your private insurance provider, to do “direct billing”.
Depending on your insurance plan, you may still need to pay an extra amount for some services – this is called an “out-of-pocket” cost, or a “gap fee”.
If you are buying prescription medication, you will first need to pay the pharmacy directly before making a claim to your insurer.
Finding sexual health services
If you are an international student, or are advocating on behalf of an international student, 1800 My Options can help you find appropriate sexual and reproductive healthcare.
Contact us on 1800 696 784 (Weekdays 9am – 5pm), or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following consultation with Victorian international students, we've produced the following fact sheets to address some of the most common topics international students have questions about.
- The Role of Health Professionals
As an international student, it can be tricky to find your way around a new healthcare system - especially regarding your sexual and reproductive health. Where should you go, and who can do what? Here is some information about the types of sexual and reproductive health services that Australian health professionals can provide.
- Things to Ask Your GP
Sometimes you might feel unsure of what you can ask your GP, especially when it comes to talking about your sexual and reproductive health. Here’s some questions you can ask to help get the conversation going.
- What a Health Worker Might Ask You
While it might feel awkward or embarrassing talking to a health professional about your sexual and reproductive health needs, health professionals need to know about your situation to best help you. This means they sometimes need to ask some sensitive questions about your circumstances.
- Your Medical Privacy
Health professionals can have a lot of sensitive information about you. This may include your medical history, any medications you take, your sexual relationships, any procedures you have had, as well as your contact and insurance details. However, Australia has strict privacy laws to protect your information.
- Paying for healthcare in Australia
Here is some useful information about your private health insurance (OSHC) and finding out more abouts costs to access health services.
- Your college or university on-campus health care service
Many colleges and universities have on-campus health care services for all students and staff. These services can provide check-ups, sexual health assessments and women’s health care.
- Your private health insurance company website
Many OSHC providers have a list of clinics that can bill your insurance provider directly, so you don’t need to pay extra. You can search on their website using the “Find a Doctor” tool.
- Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
This clinic provides free sexual health testing and treatment (it does not provide contraception or abortion services, Cervical Screening Tests or vaccination for HPV). It is a walk-in clinic, so it’s best to arrive early in the day, or you can book an appointment through the Time To Test service. This clinic is free for everyone, including international visitors without medical insurance or a Medicare card.
580 Swanston Street, Carlton
- Family Planning Victoria
This organisation has a free online module called Dating in Australia: Sexual and Reproductive Health for International Students
- Study Melbourne Student Centre
This centre provides information, referral and practical support for all international students in Victoria. They can give you support for health, accommodation, employment and legal problems, and help you access services in the community. They provide free interpreting services and a convenient study area.
17 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
1800 056 449
- International Student Legal Information
A free resource by Inner Melbourne Community Legal for Victorian international students
- Meld Magazine
Australia's leading international student news website
- Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
This is an Australian government site, which provides independent private health insurance information and lets you compare health insurance policies from every Australian health insurer.
If you need to make a complaint about your private health insurance, you can contact:
1300 362 072 (weekdays, 9am-5pm)