A guide to health insurance for 600 Visa holders in Australia

Chris Stanley

Chris Stanley

Updated 26/02/2024

OVHC is a type of health insurance that’s compulsory for many temporary visa holders in Australia, including those on a visa sub-class 600. Here’s what you need to know.

A guide to health insurance for 600 Visa holders in Australia

Compare Heath Cover for 600 Visa with 8501 Condition

Are you travelling to Australia on a tourist visa? Then you may need Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) to pay for any medical treatment you might  need while in the country.

Key Points

  • Visitor visa (subclass 600) — also known as a visitor visa 600 or a 600 visa —  is typically granted to tourists, business visitors and people visiting family in Australia for up to three, six or 12 months.

  • 600 visas may be subject to condition 8501, which means the visa holder must purchase private health insurance for the duration of your stay in Australia.

  • Without visitor visa 600 health insurance, you may have to pay the full cost of any hospital or medical treatment you need while in Australia.

  • Many  insurers in Australia offer various levels of OVHC for visa 600, so it’s important to compare policies to ensure you’re getting the right cover for your needs and budget.

What is OVHC?

Planning to live in Australia on a temporary visa like a 600 visitor visa or a 485 visa? Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) is an important component to think about before you arrive. 

Although Australia offers universal healthcare through the Medicare system for permanent residents, overseas visitors are not always eligible to have medical care paid for by the Australian government.

OVHC provides health cover if you need treatment while you’re in Australia – and it’s mandatory for some visa holders.

OVHC is a type of health insurance that’s compulsory for many temporary visa holders in Australia, including those on a visa sub-class 600. Here’s what you need to know.

Compare OVHC Insurance

600 Visa Health Insurance: Costs

Health insurers typically offer various levels of insurance coverage for people visiting Australia on a 600 visa. Policies that provide higher tier coverage are generally more expensive than lower level cover. 

Cheap visitor visa 600 health insurance, on the other hand, may not offer the same level of medical cover as a more comprehensive policy, or may charge a higher excess when you make a claim.

However, that’s not always true. Compare Club can help you find a cost-effective OVHC for your trip to Australia#.

What does Medicare cover?

Medicare covers the costs associated with many essential medical treatments for Australian citizens and permanent residents. 

If your home country has a reciprocal healthcare agreement (RHCA) with Australia, then Medicare might also cover some of the costs for certain essential medical treatments you may need during your visit.

The Australian government has RHCAs with:

  • Belgium

  • Finland

  • Ireland

  • Italy

  • Malta

  • Netherlands

  • New Zealand

  • Norway

  • Slovenia

  • Sweden

  • United Kingdom

However, Medicare only covers part of the scheduled fee for treatments that are listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). And if you don’t have private health insurance, you may be charged an out-of-pocket gap fee even if your treatment is listed on the MBS.

If your home country does not have a RHCA with the Australian government and you are travelling on a 600 visa subject to condition 8501, then you are likely not eligible to receive Medicare benefits at all. 

600 Visa Health Insurance: Private health insurance benefits 

Depending on your insurer and your policy, OVHC can include cover for:

  • Emergency hospital visits

  • Emergency ambulance transport

  • Doctor’s visits

  • The cost of prescription medication

But inclusions and exclusions vary between insurers and policies, so it’s worth comparing different options to figure out which one offers you the best value for money.

Medical services and treatments typically not covered by basic OVHC policies include:

  • Dental

  • Optical

  • Physiotherapy

  • Elective or cosmetic surgeries

  • Non-emergency ambulance transport

However, many insurers offer optional additional cover for services and treatments like these under an extras policy. 

If you think you might need any of these treatments while you’re in Australia, extras cover may mean you can avoid paying the entire bill out of your own pocket. 

600 Visa Health Insurance: Waiting periods

Some insurers may apply waiting periods for certain treatments covered under a OVHC policy. However, the Australian government sets maximum waiting period limits that insurers must comply with. 

Australian health insurers can impose a maximum two-month waiting period for most medical treatments, with the exception of:

  • Pre-existing conditions — 12 months

  • Pregnancy or birth-related treatments — 12 months

600 visa health insurance:  Key terms

Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC): OVHC is a type of private health insurance policy that is designed to help visitors to Australia cover the cost of medical and hospital treatments needed during their stay.

Visitor visa 600: This is a temporary visa that is commonly granted to people who want to visit Australia as tourists, for business purposes, or to visit family. A visitor visa 600 may be granted for stays up to three, six or 12 months.

Condition 8501: Condition 8501 means you need to have your health insurance in place from the moment you arrive in Australia. If you don’t organise this cover before you arrive, your visa might not be approved.

Pre-existing condition: A pre-existing condition is typically defined as a medical condition that the policy holder (or a person covered by the policy) was diagnosed with, treated for, or showed symptoms of prior to the start date of their health insurance policy. 

Waiting period: Some health insurers apply waiting periods on new policy holders. This is a specific period of time that the policy holder must wait until benefits for certain treatments become payable. 

Extras policy: Also known as ancillary or general insurance, an extras policy covers a range of specified out-of-hospital healthcare services, like dental, optical and physiotherapy treatments. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 600 visa health insurance a tax deduction?

If you purchased a complying health insurance policy from an Australian-registered health insurer and are eligible for Medicare, you might be entitled to a private health insurance rebate. 

However, if you are not eligible for Medicare, you are not entitled to a private health insurance rebate — even if you purchased a complying health insurance policy from an Australian-registered health insurer.

Does a waiting period apply to 600 visa health insurance?

It depends on the insurer and the terms of the specific health cover you purchase. 

For most medical treatments (excluding pre-existing conditions and birth-related treatments), health insurers can apply a maximum two-month waiting period. 

Is visitor visa 600 health insurance compulsory?

If your 600 visa is subject to condition 8501, then visitor visa 600 health insurance 8501 is compulsory. 

However, even if your 600 visa is not subject to condition 8501, the Australian government ‘strongly recommends’ all visitors to Australia purchase OVHC insurance.

What is condition 8501 on a visitor visa to Australia?

Condition 8501 means you need to have your health insurance in place from the moment you arrive in Australia. If you don’t organise this cover before you arrive, your visa might not be approved.

If your visa has condition 8501, you’ll need to buy OVHC prior to your arrival to ensure you have adequate health cover during your whole stay in Australia.

Compare OVHC Insurance

Additional resources

Sources

Subclass 600 Visitor visa, Australian Government Department of Home Affairs

Visas subject to condition 8501, Australian Government Department of Home Affairs

Overseas visitors and healthcare, Better Health Channel

Overseas visitors — private health insurance on your tax return, Australian Taxation Office,

Disclaimer: This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

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Chris Stanley is the sales & operations manager of health insurance at Compare Club. With extensive experience and expertise, Chris is a trusted leader known for his deep understanding of health insurance markets, policies, and coverage options. As the sales & operations manager of health insurance, Chris leads a team of dedicated professionals committed to helping individuals and families make informed decisions about their health insurance needs.

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Chris Stanley

Sales & Operations Manager for Health Insurance