Finding affordable health insurance in Australia on a 482 visa

Chris Stanley

Chris Stanley

Updated 05/02/2024

Are you visiting Australia on a 482 temporary skills shortage (TSS) visa? Our guide explains everything you need to know about finding affordable health cover.

Finding affordable health insurance in Australia on a 482 visa

Health Insurance for 482 Visa Holders

Key Points

  • Having adequate health insurance is a prerequisite for accessing a 482 visa.

  • You must have your health insurance in place before you arrive, and it must be maintained for the full length of your time in Australia (i.e., up to 4 years).

  • Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs) can grant you access to Medicare if you’re arriving from an eligible country.

  • For some 482 visa holders, OVHC is compulsory.

Embarking on a journey to Australia with a Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) 482 visa is an exciting endeavour, and ensuring you have the right health insurance is a crucial aspect of your relocation. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the intricacies of health insurance for 482 visa holders, providing insights into the Medicare system, Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC), and the various options available.

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Who is eligible for the 482 visa?

The 482 TSS visa is designed to help Australia fill shortages in skills and/or expertise in certain fields.

If you work in one of the skill areas where Australia has a deficit, you may be eligible to apply to live here for a temporary period.

The period of time covered by your visa usually lasts from 1-2 years, but can be extended up to 4 years). The visa can cover a single person, or more.

Am I eligible for Medicare on a 482 visa?

Medicare - which is the name for Australia’s public health system - can be accessed by 482 visa holders from countries with a RHCA. If your country doesn’t have an RHCA with Australia, then it’s compulsory to get private health insurance if you’re arriving on a 482 visa.

Australia has RHCAs in place with: 

  • United Kingdom

  • Republic of Ireland

  • New Zealand

  • Sweden

  • The Netherlands

  • Finland

  • Belgium

  • Norway

  • Slovenia

  • Malta

  • Italy

It’s worth noting that RHCAs do not cover the following:

  • ambulance transportation

  • dental care

  • elective surgery (i.e., non-urgent surgical procedures)

  • medical evacuation

  • private patient treatment in a private or public hospital 

  • any medical treatment that isn’t deemed medically essential. 

Being eligible for Medicare is helpful, but you may want to consider taking out some form of OVHC as well so you’re covered for all potential medical issues.

If your country does not have a RHCA with Australia, then you’ll need to take out ‘adequate’ private health insurance as part of your 482 visa application.

Adequate Cover for 482 visa health insurance:

Your private health insurance must meet the mandatory health cover requirements for your 482 visa. This means your OVHC must be equivalent to, or greater than, Australian public hospital cover (i.e., Medicare).

A Basic level of OVHC will usually cover this off for you. This level of OVHC includes:

  • operating theatre costs

  • intensive care expenses

  • labour ward time

  • in-hospital medications

  • emergency department costs

  • day surgery fees

  • Prosthetics

  • urgent ambulance transport

It’s also important to know what’s not covered by the level of OVHC policy you’re on, so you can upgrade this if you need to.

How can I get covered for dental care and ambulance trips?

Medical treatments and procedures not covered by Medicare are known as ‘Extras’. Australia’s private health insurers offer a wide range of Extras policies, all of which cover services excluded from Medicare, such as dental healthcare and ambulance cover.

You can purchase private health cover while you’re in Australia on a 482 TSS visa. Whether your country of origin has a RHCA with Australia or not, doesn’t affect this at all.

Why do I need to apply for Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC)?

Unless your home country has a RHCA with Australia, anyone arriving in Australia on a 482 temporary skill shortage (TSS) visa requires a health insurance policy that adequately covers them for the period of their stay, and for the type of work they’re approved to undertake. 

This is to ensure you’re covered for health care while you’re in Australia. This policy must be active before you arrive, and forms a component of your visa application.

What if I am bringing my partner and/or family on my 482 visa?

Your OVHC must adequately cover all those arriving via your 482 visa. You can find insurance policies that cover singles, couples, and families. It’s possible to cover an entire family on one family OVHC policy.

What is ‘adequate cover’ for my 482 visa status?

Your OVHC insurance has to be equivalent to Australian public hospital cover. This means it needs to include cover for: 

  • operating theatre costs

  • intensive care expenses

  • Time spent in a labour ward

  • hospital medications

  • emergency department costs

  • day surgery treatment fees

  • prosthetics

  • urgent ambulance transport

Basically, your OVHC must be the same as an Australian resident would receive from Medicare - and it must be in place before you arrive in the country.

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What isn’t covered by OVHC?

This very much depends on your policy, and your insurer, but in general, most OVHC policies will not cover:

  • Reproductive services

  • Cosmetic surgeries

  • Stem cell, bone marrow and organ transplant surgery

  • Treatment provided outside Australia

  • Procedures or treatments arranged before you arrived in Australia

  • Procedures or treatments covered by compensation schemes

  • Procedures or treatments not covered by Medicare

When do I need to apply for OVHC?

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) requires a letter from your health insurer and/or your employer confirming you’re covered, before they grant your 482 visa. 

Once you’ve chosen your OVHC, your insurer issues you with your certificate of insurance as proof of coverage. This document may be required when applying for, or renewing, your 482 visa.

What are my health cover choices on a 482 Visa?

You’ll generally have three main options for your health cover in Australia:

  1. Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC): These policies are designed to accommodate temporary residents, including 482 visa holders. The policies can include general treatment (e.g., dental, physiotherapy), emergency ambulance services, and in-patient hospital treatment.

  2. Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs): These agreements with select countries mean some 482 visa holders may access limited local healthcare services. RHCAs don’t typically offer extensive cover. Additional insurance may be necessary.

  3. Private Health Insurance: Private health cover is the most flexible insurance. The policies can be tailored to your needs, and can include general treatments, ambulance services, as well as hospital care and alternative health therapies. It’s a way to tailor your health cover to your specific healthcare needs.

What are the waiting periods for OVHC?

Waiting periods refer to the amount of time you need to hold your policy before making a claim. Generally, you can expect waiting periods on your cover to include:

  • 2 months for psychiatric, rehabilitation and palliative care

  • 12 months for pregnancy-related conditions

  • 12 months for pre-existing conditions (‘pre-existing’ refers to any medical condition of which you showed symptoms in the 6 months before your visa was approved, or before you arrived in Australia.)

How do I find the right health policy for my temporary stay?

When selecting your health cover, consider the following:

  • Coverage: Make sure your policy covers a wide range of medical services, including hospitalisation, surgeries, and specialist consultations.

  • Waiting periods: Some policies require you to serve mandatory waiting periods before you can use any benefit. Be aware of these waiting periods and how they may affect you.

For example: pregnancy often has a 12 month waiting period before you can claim your costs. If you or your partner are already pregnant before starting your work visa, you’ll need an insurer who offers the right health care without the waiting period.

  • Exclusions: Understand what services are excluded from your coverage to decide whether you need additional health cover.

  • Premiums: A good value policy offers the cover you need for your health status and current lifestyle, at a price you can afford. Comparing premium costs ensures you’re getting a good deal.

  • Provider network: Some insurers partner with specific hospitals, clinics, and medical practitioners. Check if your preferred healthcare providers are within the insurer's network, and find out what you can about where they’re located. You don’t want to pay for providers that aren’t located in or near where you’ll be based while you’re working here.

The bottom line:

For some people on a 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) 482 visa, getting OVHC is compulsory. But even if your country has a Reciprocal Health Care Arrangement in place, it can still be a good idea to look into additional private health cover for things such as dental and physiotherapy treatments.

By understanding your options and selecting a suitable policy, you’ll ensure that your healthcare needs - and those of your family - are met while you live, work and visit on our shores.

Compare Club’s experts can help you find health cover that supports your lifestyle, and your budget#. Get in touch today and see how we can help you find affordable cover.

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#Compare Club compares selected products from a panel of trusted insurers and does not compare all products in the market.

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