It is mandatory to have a private health insurance cover if you are applying for or holding a student visa, graduate visa, work visa or an training visa. Temporary visa applicants/holders usually have questions about private health insurance, such as: Do they really have to get it? Can they cancel their private health insurance once their visa is granted? Can they cancel their private health insurance after they have applied for a Permanent Residency (PR) visa? This article intends to answer these common questions about private health insurance.
Do I really have to get a private health insurance cover?
The answer to this question depends on the visa subclass you are applying for. For the Training Visa 407, Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa 482, Student visa 500, and the Temporary Graduate visa 485, it is required that you have a health insurance cover during the period of your intended stay in Australia. For the Visitor visa 600, it is not mandatory to have a health insurance. However, I still encourage my clients to purchase it so that in case of any medical emergencies, their hospital bills will be covered.
Note that your visa application can be refused if you don’t provide evidence of health insurance cover when applying for visas where having a health cover is a mandatory requirement.
Can I cancel my private health insurance if my visa is granted?
For visas with mandatory health cover requirement, the visa grant will come with the 8501 condition, which means that the visa holder must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while the holder is in Australia.
If you cancel your health insurance cover, you will be in breach of the 8501 condition and this can lead to visa cancellation.
Can I cancel my private health insurance if I have applied for a Permanent Residency visa?
This is the most common question I get from clients who are in the process of switching from a temporary visa to a Permanent Residency visa. The thing is, when you still hold a temporary visa with mandatory health insurance requirement, you must still adhere with the 8501 condition. However, applying for a PR visa in Australia gets you a Bridging Visa A which then gives you eligibility to apply for a Medicare interim card.
I looked at the 8501 condition closely and found this on the Policy Advice Manual (PAM), that temporary visa holders who applied for a PR visa and hold a valid Medicare card may be considered to meet the minimum requirements for adequate health insurance for the period of time they hold the valid Medicare card. This means that you can to cancel your current health insurance once you have your Medicare interim card and may still satisfy the 8501 condition.
In summary, you can satisfy the mandatory health insurance requirement for temporary visas (where it is required) by having a private health cover when you apply for your visa and follow the 8501 visa condition (where it is imposed) by continuing your health cover towards the duration of your stay in Australia. You may also satisfy the 8501 condition when you hold a Medicare interim card even if you cancel your private health insurance.
If you would like to know more about health insurance cover for Australian visa holders, watch my interview with John Waddell Migration Channel Manger of BUPA at http://bridgeaus.com.au/bridgeaustv/.