When applying for a working Australian Visa a common requirement is to prove that you have ‘adequate health insurance for your stay within Australia’. This requirement varies based on the visa subclass with the post popular two categories explained below. It’s important to note that when an individual plans to bring their partner or family to Australia on that visa that health insurance coverage applies for all members.
457 Visa Health Insurance
Any application for a 457 visa must include proof of adequate health insurance for the applicant’s stay in Australia. This is irrelevant of the applicant’s source country even if they have a reciprocal health care agreement. Standard health insurance that Australian permanent residents use does not meet this requirement and many health funds such as NIB, GMHBA and Westfund don’t offer policies for this visa subclass.
There key funds that offer 457 visa health insurance include IMAN, BUPA, Medibank, HBF, HCF and Australian Unity. All of these funds provide a ‘proof of purchase’ once a booking is made which needs to be attached to any 457 visa application. It’s important to note that these funds have tailored their policy to meet DIAC’s ‘adequate health insurance’ requirement. If you find a different health fund offering this insurance it’s important to ensure their specific 457 visa policy also meets the DIAC requirement otherwise the application may be rejected.
Once a 457 visa holder moves to Australia they may apply for Medicare if they come from a reciprocal health care agreement country such as the UK. This is strongly recommended as some services may be covered by Medicare that may not be through your 457 visa health insurance policy.
Once you have received your Medicare card you can cancel the 457 visa health insurance but still meet the 457 visa requirements. Cancelling your cover though can have tax and cover implications. This is discussed further at the end of this article.
485 Visa Health Insurance
The 485 Visa for students looking to work in Australia has almost identical requirements to the 457 visa. When an applicant submits their 485 visa application they must show proof of health insurance that meets the visa’s requirement (which is the same as the 457 visa). This means that the health funds that provider 457 visa (IMAN, BUPA, Medibank, HBF, HCF and Australian Unity) also offer 485 visa cover. It’s important to double check on the funds website to make sure individual policies are relevant for this visa subclass.
A key difference for those applicants that come from a reciprocal health care country is that they can show records of their Medicare card as proof they have met this requirement. Unlike a 457 visa holder, a 485 visa applicant will already have been studying in Australia and may have applied for Medicare (and received it) within that timeframe. The most common mistake 485 visa applicants make though is use their existing OSHC (overseas student health cover) as proof they have met the health insurance requirement. This basic policy only meets the student visa requirement.
A useful resources for 485 visa applicants or holders is the government’s 485 visa page.
Other Working Visas
There are a number of niche Australian working visas. Most of these require overseas visitor health cover to meet condition 8501 which is the same health insurance requirement of a 457 visa or 485 visa holder. If you’re unsure it’s important to contact your migration agent of DIAC.
Private Health Insurance in Australia
Private health insurance is not compulsory for Australian permanent residents yet over 11 million people are covered for hospital treatment. This is due to a combination of Australian’s not feeling confident of Medicare which can have out-of-pocket expenses and long waiting lists as well as tax penalties for not having cover such as the Medicare surcharge.
In some cases, where individuals that migrate from countries with reciprocal health care agreements (such as the UK), they will be eligible for Medicare which once received will allow them to cancel their private health insurance. For the reasons above though it’s recommended that such a decision be taken cautiously and that you speak to a financial advisor or accountant to understand the tax implications of doing so.
About the Author: Justin Grossbard is an online specialist having worked for some of Australia’s leading private health funds over the past decade. He has also traveled extensive and worked overseas under professional visas so he knows the expat space inside-out.