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Health Insurance for 485 Visas

Jonathan February 16th, 2015 0 comments
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If you are an international student who has recently graduated from an educational institution in Australia, you may wish to continue living in Australia after your schooling is complete. Staying in the country may be important so you can complete a post-study work program or do post-graduate work. Depending upon your qualifications and the reasons you wish to stay in Australia, you may be eligible for a 485 Visa.

A 485 Visa could allow you to live and work in Australia for up to four years after the time you have graduated. However, if you plan to stay in the country, you need to make sure you have adequate health insurance. This is not only important so you don’t end up facing major unexpected medical expenses if you get sick or injured…. having adequate health insurance is also a prerequisite for obtaining a 485 visa.

What is a 485 Visa?

A 485 Visa is a Temporary Graduate Visa that allows you to live in Australia and either study or work for a limited period of time after you have graduated from an educational institution in Australia.

The Subclass 485 Visa used to be named the Skilled Graduate subclass visa but was renamed the Temporary Graduate visa on March 23, 2013. When the visa’s name was changed, a new law also went into effect requiring that all holders of a Subclass 485 visa meet certain health insurance requirements.

Why obtain a 485 Visa?

There are two different streams of 485 visa:

  • The Graduate Work Stream: is for international students who have graduated with the skills and abilities to take a job on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL). This list includes, but is not limited to medical administration; construction project management; accounting; architecture; urban planning; most types of engineering; veterinary work; and virtually all medical professionals including dentistry; ophthalmology; podiatry. You may remain in Australia and work in a qualified professional position for 18 months.
  • The Post-Study Work Stream: is for international students who have graduated with a higher education degree, regardless of their particular field of study. In order to be eligible for this Visa, you must have been granted a student visa after November 5, 2011. You can remain in Australia for up to four years after the time when your Visa is granted.

A 485 visa holder is eligible to stay in Australia while also working, traveling, and studying. You should consider obtaining a 485 visa if you want to put what you have learned in school to use and find a rewarding career in the Australian employment market. Individuals who are granted a 485 Visa may also have their family members join them in Australia including a married or de facto partner; dependent children; and other dependent relatives.

What is 485 Visa Health Insurance?

The Australian Government Private Health Ombudsman indicates that anyone who is applying for a Visa Subclass 485 must obtain health insurance as part of a visa condition. The Ombudsman makes clear that Visa condition 8501 applies to anyone who is applying for a 485 visa. This condition states “The holder must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance while the holder is in Australia.”

Because of this Visa condition, you must obtain a minimum level of health insurance for your visa to be approved, and you must maintain that insurance throughout your stay in Australia. You must make “adequate arrangements” for health insurance from the time when you submit your application for the visa until such time as a decision is made on your visa application.

If you hold a valid student visa at the time of your application for a 485 visa, your Overseas Student Health Cover is sufficient to meet the condition at the time you lodge your application. However, during the visa processing period, you will need to obtain 485-compliant health cover for the visa application to be finalized. Immigration officials will contact you to ensure you have changed your coverage from Overseas Student Health Cover to a 485 health insurance policy before issuing the visa.

You may obtain your insurance coverage through Medicare, if you are eligible for reciprocity with Australia’s Medicare program. Your eligibility for reciprocity will depend upon the country that you are a citizen of. You may also obtain coverage through a private insurer that offers 485 visa health insurance. Policies that are in compliance are generally called Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC).

What are the Minimum Coverage Levels Required for 485 Visa Health Insurance?

Not all private health insurance policies provide sufficient coverage to comply with 485 visa requirements. In order to be eligible for a Temporary Graduate Visa, your 485 health insurance must provide coverage for:

  • Hospital cover that pays out at least at State and Territory health authority rates.
  • Public hospital treatment, including overnight accommodation fees.
  • Emergency department fees.
  • Hospital fees for admitted patient care and post-op services.
  • 100 percent of the minimum coverage available for surgically-implanted protheses as listed in the Private Health Insurance Rules 2007
  • Drugs listed in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • All admitted medical services for which a Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) number has been assigned.
  • 100 percent of the costs of ambulance services provided by a government-approved ambulance provider and not covered by a third party

The insurer must not impose waiting periods exceeding 12-months for pre-existing medical conditions or for pregnancy, obstetrics and gynecology services. The insurer also must make policy information available so that you can give informed financial consent.

Are You Covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

Certain countries have a reciprocity agreement in place with the Australian government that will allow you to receive Medicare coverage. This can satisfy your 485 visa health insurance requirements. Full details about reciprocity of coverage are provided by the Department of Human Services.

Residents of the following countries are eligible for reciprocity for the full length of time they remain in Australia:

  • New Zealand
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • The United Kingdom

Residents of certain other countries may be eligible for coverage but are required to apply for and enroll in Medicare. Coverage may be available for only a limited period of time, and will end based on the expiration date on the insurance card from the home country.

What Types of Coverage Do You Get Under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement?

The type of 485 visa health insurance available through Medicare is going to vary depending upon the arrangement the Australian government has in place for your country. In many cases, you are covered only for treatment that is “medically essential.” This means Medicare would only pay for illnesses and injuries sustained in Australia that must be treated before you can return home.

When more generous benefits are available, you can typically get some types of in-hospital treatment, out-patient follow-up care, and subsidized medicine. However, the benefits are generally far from comprehensive and an illness or an injury could result in significant out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Should You Purchase Only Minimum Coverage?

The health coverage required to obtain a 485 visa is intended to ensure you are covered if you need to go to hospital and receive treatment for serious medical conditions. You will not be covered for any types of routine health costs for you or your family, including dental costs, eye care, physio therapy, or occupational therapy. You may also be limited in your choice of care providers.

You should carefully consider your health needs and the needs of any family members who will be living in Australia with you while you are residing in the country on a 485 visa. Buying broader private hospital insurance as well as extras coverage may be necessary to ensure you medical needs are fully met.

How Do You Prove You Have 485 Health Insurance?

You must provide proof of your insurance coverage with your 485 Visa application. Insurance MUST be in effect when you apply, when your application is pending, after your visa has been received, and until such time as you leave the country.

Your insurance company can provide a certificate or letter indicating that you have qualifying 485 visa health insurance coverage. If you do not submit this proof, your application for a visa can be denied. If your coverage lapses while you are in Australia on a 485 visa, you can have your visa cancelled and may not be approved for other classes of Visas that would allow you to live and work in Australia.

Do not jeopardize your immigration status. Shop today for qualifying 485 health insurance.

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