457 Visa applicants
From 14 September 2009, if you apply for Visa Subclass 457 you will be required to make arrangements for a minimum level of health insurance prior to the grant of the visa. You will need to maintain this insurance for yourself, and your family if they are joining you on the same visa, for the duration of your stay in Australia. For details of the required minimum level of insurance, you can refer to the Department of Immigration: information on Visa subclass 457.
You will need to provide Immigration with a letter from your health insurer to verify you have met this visa requirement. Your health insurer may wish to complete a template letter, which is available from the Department of Immigration (see: Visa Applicants - Health Insurance).
Evidence may also be in the form of a letter from your employer confirming you will be covered by an insurance policy that meets the requirement of the 457 visa along with details of the insurance provider and policy.
If your visa status or Medicare eligibility changes at any time, inform your insurer as soon as possible to find out whether your level of cover is still suitable.
You may be able to apply to Immigration for an exemption from the 457 health insurance visa requirements if you are covered by a reciprocal health care agreement and you have enrolled in Medicare, the Australian public health care system. For more information about the exemption, you should contact Immigration and your visa processing officer.
Eligibility for these reciprocal arrangements is assessed case by case and you cannot enrol in Medicare until you have arrived in Australia. This means that if you are applying for your 457 visa from outside Australia, you will still need to arrange complying insurance to meet your visa requirements. If you then successfully enrol in Medicare after your arrival in Australia, you can obtain an exemption from Immigration.
Make sure you understand the degree of access to Australian health care services that these reciprocal agreements provide. In general, access is limited to care for immediate necessary medical treatment provided in the Australian public health system. For peace of mind it is recommended you consider taking out comprehensive health insurance for the duration of your stay in Australia.
Finding and selecting a plan
If you have not been granted exemption from the 457 visa health insurance requirement, you will need a health insurance policy that meets the Department of Immigration's Visa 457 requirements .
Australian health insurers offer a range of Overseas Visitor Covers that comply with 457 visa requirements. The products are generally called Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). There is a range of OVHC products available so make sure you consider only those that are comprehensive enough to comply with the 457 visa requirements. Some international insurers also offer health policies that meet visa requirements.
The Internet is a good way to locate insurance cover for visitors. We suggest you search for "Overseas Visitors Insurance" or "Overseas Visitors Health Cover" in a search engine and compare policies from at least 3 providers. See the Tips on health insurance for visitors for further information about what to consider when purchasing and maintaining your cover.
How the Medicare Levy Surcharge might affect the type of health insurance you need
If you are:
- a 457 visa holder;
- on a high income (over $90,000 as a single or $180,000 as a couple or family in the 2015-16 financial year);
- considered resident in Australia for tax purposes; and
- have successfully enrolled in Medicare (for any level of benefits - reciprocal, interim, or full);
then you may be affected by the Medicare Levy Surcharge. For further information about the Surcharge and the type of health insurance policy that exempts you from the Surcharge, please refer to the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
Visas granted prior to 14 September 2009
If you were granted a 457 visa prior to 14 September 2009, your sponsor retains ultimate responsibility for the cost of treatment in a public hospital. If you change sponsors after 14 September 2009, the liability for certain health costs transfers to your new sponsor.