Health Insurance For Bridging Visas

Find and compare quotes for health insurance to cover you through your bridging visa here with Savvy. 

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, updated on July 6th, 2023       

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If you’re living in Australia on a bridging visa, the chances are that you won’t be covered by Medicare benefits. That means you’ll be required to ensure you have adequate private health insurance to cover your health needs while you wait for your full visa to be granted. 

Finding health insurance that complies with government regulations for visa holders is simple with Savvy. We make it easy for you to compare these policies with our free comparison service, including assistance from a health insurance specialist to help you find a policy suited to your needs among a panel of trusted insurers. Get your health insurance needs sorted through Savvy today.  

What health insurance can I get for a bridging visa?

The type of health insurance you’ll need while on a bridging visa is known as Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). This type of insurance is designed for temporary visitors, workers and residents who aren't covered by the Australian Medicare system. All health insurance policies available to overseas visitors through Savvy comply with the 8501 visa condition, which requires you to have adequate health insurance while living in Australia. 

With an OVHC policy, you can either get health cover just for yourself or for you and your family under one policy. You can also choose whether you have cover which just satisfies the basic minimum hospital cover to comply with your visa conditions or one that provides more comprehensive extras cover. Naturally, the more areas of cover provided by your health policy, the more it’ll cost. 

What is included and excluded with health insurance for bridging visas?

The cheapest health insurance option available only includes basic hospital cover, ambulance cover and some pharmaceutical benefits, which will assist you with the cost of medicines. However, it won’t cover the cost of visiting a doctor or seeing a dentist or physiotherapist.  

The minimum inclusions which all OVHC policies must comply with to satisfy the 8501 visa condition are:  

Public hospital cover 

A benefit rate equal to the state and territory gazetted rate for ineligible Medicare patients, including: 

  • Overnight and hospital accommodation (including all costs for theatre, intensive care, labour wards and pharmaceuticals) 
  • Emergency department fees resulting in a hospital admission 
  • Patient care and post-operative services required after discharge from hospital 
  • All admitted treatments covered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule 

Ambulance cover 

  • 100% of the cost of ambulance transport not otherwise covered by third-party arrangements 


  • For all Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule-listed drugs, a benefit equal to the listed price (above the patient contribution) 

Inclusions with extras cover 

If you choose a higher level OVHC and elect to add extras cover you may be able to claim back a portion of the costs for these extra services:

  1. GP consultations 
  2. Specialist consultations 
  3. Pathology (such as blood tests) 
  4. Radiology (such as X-rays) 
  5. General dental 
  6. Optical 
  7. Physiotherapy 
  8. Acupuncture

Exclusions to private health insurance for bridging visas

The following exclusions may apply to the health cover you buy for your bridging visa:

  1. procedures not considered medically necessary
  2. elective cosmetic surgery or procedures including laser eye surgery, tattoo removal and breast enlargements
  3. some alternative medicines and treatment
  4. assisted reproductive treatments (such as IVF treatments)
  5. stem cell treatments, organ transplants and bone marrow treatments
  6. treatments provided outside of Australia
  7. treatments covered by compensation or damages claims

How should I compare different health insurance policies?

To get the best health insurance for your current needs on a bridging visa, go through these steps and ask yourself these questions when comparing your options: 

Who is the health cover for? 

If you just need health insurance cover for yourself, look at a singles policy. If you have your partner or family with you, you may look towards a policy for couples or families. 

Do I want cover just for hospital treatment or extras too?  

A hospital cover policy will give you basic benefits if you’re admitted to hospital for treatment. It is the cheapest form of OVHC cover. It is also available in a range of levels, from basic to top cover. If you opt for a higher hospital cover and add on extras benefits too, you’ll likely get some cover for the cost of visiting a doctor, a dentist or a physiotherapist, but you’ll pay more for the policy.  

How much can I afford? 

When considering your health care budget, think about the treatments that you’ve required in the past six months and consider how much you’d pay for that treatment if you didn’t have health insurance. This is particularly relevant when considering if it’s worth having private health insurance with extras cover, since basic hospital cover is mandatory. Whether you need extras cover or a higher level of OVHC will depend on your need to see a GP, have dental work done, or see other health care specialists such as physiotherapists, chiropractors and opticians.  

What are the waiting periods which may apply?  

OVHC is offered on a month-by-month basis, so you won’t have to pay for your cover in advance, but it’s worth checking what waiting periods may apply. These may range from: 

  • one day for ambulance cover 
  • two months for other types of cover such as optical and dental 
  • up to 12 months for pre-existing conditions or pregnancy 

How critical these waiting periods are for your needs will depend on the length of time you anticipate living in Australia on your bridging visa. 

Types of health insurance

Why compare health insurance through Savvy?

Frequently asked questions about health insurance for bridging visas

Are some people on a bridging visa entitled to Medicare benefits?

Yes – there are some limited opportunities for people who are on a bridging visa to be entitled to Medicare cover under a Ministerial order. These include those who are on temporary protection visas (subclass 785), removal pending bridging visas (subclass 070) and others. 

Can OVHC be taken out by those with bridging visas A, B, C, D and E?

Yes – each subclass of bridging visa permits different levels of travel in and out of Australia and comes with its own conditions attached. However, almost all bridging visas require the visa holder to maintain an adequate level of health cover whilst they’re waiting for their visa status to be determined or for another type of visa to be issued. 

If I have OVHC, can I change it to student cover when my student visa is approved?

If your bridging visa is changed to a student visa, you should be able to swap over the type of health insurance policy you have to Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), particularly if you remain with the same health cover provider. However, you may have to pay in advance for your student health cover as part of your student visa application. 

What happens if my health insurance expires while I’m still in Australia?

If your health insurance expires, or you can’t afford to pay the premium and you’re left with no health cover, you may be in breach of the terms of your bridging visa conditions. You should urgently seek expert legal advice to ensure that your bridging visa is not cancelled. 

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