Frequently asked questions
How do I know which is the right health insurance cover for me?
We're here to help you select the right health cover for your needs.
Bupa has an extensive range of overseas visitors cover and private health insurance options, including 457 visa health insurance. If you'd like to do your own research, this website contains lots of information about different health covers to suit a range of budgets and lifestyles, plus you can join online.
If you'd feel more comfortable talking to someone about your options, please don't hesitate to call us on 134 135 from within Australia, or +61 3 9487 6400 from outside Australia.
Our opening hours are:
8am - 8pm Monday to Friday and
9am - 1pm Saturday
(All times in AEST)
I’m applying for a 457 working visa, which overseas visitors cover meets the visa requirements?
The following overseas visitor health covers meet the minimum level of insurance required as set out by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP):
- Platinum Visitors Cover
- Platinum Visitors Cover with Excess
- Gold Visitors Cover
- Gold Visitors Cover with Excess
- Essential Visitors Cover
- Essential Plus Visitors Cover
Find out more about our overseas visitors cover for working visa holders, including 457.
How do I receive my verification of cover letter for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)?
As long as you provide a valid email address on your application for cover, your verification letter will be emailed to you instantly.
I have a Reciprocal Medicare card, do I need to take out overseas visitors health cover?
If you are from a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement (RHCA) country* and have a Reciprocal Medicare card, your access to Medicare may be limited.
To ensure you are covered for both inpatient and out-patient hospital services and treatment by a doctor or specialist in private practice, you will need to take out one of our overseas visitors health cover.
If you take out one of our health insurance covers for Australian residents, you will not be covered for out-patient hospital services and treatment by a doctor or specialist in private practice, which would result in large out-of-pocket expenses.
* Countries include Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom.
Why does my accountant ask me to get a Tax Statement?
There may be a number of reasons for this, for example:
- So you can claim the Australian Government Rebate on private health insurance
You are eligible for the Australian Government Rebate if you have a Reciprocal Medicare card and have Extras cover or Reciprocal Health Cover with us.
- To exempt you from the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)
You are liable for the MLS if you: are from a country that has a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with Australia, have a Reciprocal Medicare card, and are working in Australia and earning over the MLS threshold amount.
Can I suspend my membership for overseas travel?
Yes, you can suspend your membership if you are travelling overseas for a period of between one and nine months.
To be eligible, you will need to have been a continuous member with us for at least two months, and your membership will need to be fully paid as of the suspension date. Memberships can be suspended three times per calendar year.
For full details on how to apply for suspension, please contact us.
Why can't my doctor bulk-bill me like Australian residents?
As an overseas visitor, you do not have full access to Australia's public health system, Medicare, and are not eligible to use the bulk-billing system.
If your level of health cover with us includes benefits for out-patient medical services like visits to a GP or specialist, please lodge your claims for these types of services directly with us by fax or post as you will not be able to claim on-the-spot.
If I have Reciprocal Health Cover as well as overseas visitors health cover, which cover should I claim my doctor's bills under?
All your bills should be claimed under your overseas visitors health cover. Reciprocal Health Cover only exempts you from paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
I now have permanent residency and am eligible for full Medicare benefits. From what date should I start on Australian residents' cover?
You can start from the date you are eligible for full Medicare benefits.
In order to change to a cover for Australian residents you will need to provide us with a copy of your Medicare eligibility letter as soon as possible. To avoid any Lifetime Health Cover loading you will need to take out Australian residents' cover within 12 months of becoming eligible for Medicare.
If you join on an equivalent level of cover to your overseas visitors health cover, you will continue to be covered for benefits on all services you were entitled to under your overseas visitors cover. This applies as long as you transfer cover within 60 days of ceasing your overseas visitors cover.
Can I take out private health insurance before arriving in Australia?
Yes, you can join on overseas visitors health cover before arriving in Australia and your cover will start from the date you arrive. If you wish to do this, it is easiest to join online.
Choose an overseas visitors cover for working visa holders including 457 and join online
Choose an overseas visitors cover for non-working visa holders and join online
If you would prefer to speak to us to discuss your options, please call our friendly Bupa team on 134 135 from within Australia or +61 3 9487 6400 from outside Australia.
Our opening hours are:
8am – 8pm Monday to Friday and
9am – 1pm Saturday
(all times in AEST).
What happens if I change from my current health insurance provider to Bupa?
You’ll continue to be covered for all benefit entitlements that you had on your old cover, as long as:
- Bupa currently provide them
- You have served any applicable waiting periods
- You’re changing from a recognised overseas health fund, general insurer, or Australian health insurer
- You transfer to us within 60 days of leaving your old insurer
If your level of cover with us is higher than the cover you had with your previous insurer, the lower level of benefits will apply until any waiting periods on the upgrade have been served.
If you chose a lower level of cover than you previously held, then the lower benefits of your new cover will apply immediately.
Please note that when changing health insurers, Extras benefits paid by your previous insurer will be counted towards your yearly maximums in the first year of membership with us.
Does my private health insurance cover me if I am sick when travelling interstate or overseas?
Your health insurance with us covers you in all states and territories of Australia.
It does not cover you for any healthcare services overseas. If you are planning to move overseas to live and work, we suggest you consider purchasing International Private Medical Insurance, which provides you with access to planned or emergency medical care anywhere in the world.
Contact us for more details.
How can I pay my premiums?
We offer a variety of payment options so you can choose the most convenient method of payment for you –online, by direct debit, BPay, over the telephone, by mail or at a local Bupa centre.
Can I claim the Australian Government Rebate on private health insurance on any part of my cover?
If you have a Reciprocal Medicare card and take out Extras cover or combined Hospital and Extras cover, you will be able to claim the Australian Government Rebate on your Extras cover only.
The Australian Government Rebate can also be claimed on Reciprocal Health Cover (if applicable).
If you do not have a Reciprocal Medicare card you are not eligible to claim the rebate.
Why do I have to pay GST on Hospital cover?
Under the new Private Health Insurance Act 2007, GST is included in all overseas visitors hospital insurance premiums from 1 July 2008.
What is the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee?
The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee is the maximum fee set by the Government for every medical procedure in Australia.
Medicare benefits are calculated based on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Doctors may choose to charge more than the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fees.
What is the AMA fee?
The AMA (Australian Medical Association) fee is a fee recommended by the AMA for all medical and surgical procedures carried out in Australia. AMA fees are usually higher than the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fees.
What are waiting periods?
A waiting period starts from the date you join.
During a waiting period you are not covered and will not receive any benefits for the types of treatment affected by the waiting period. Once you have served the relevant waiting period, you will receive the full benefits listed under your level of cover for that treatment type. All waiting periods will need to be served in Australia and will start from the date of arrival into Australia.
Do I have to provide a medical certificate for all claims in the first 12 months?
If your claim is in the first 12 months and relates to a pre-existing condition, you will need to provide a medical certificate.
However, if your claim is in the first 12 months, not related to a pre-existing condition and you ensure the section on medical symptoms on your claim form is completed, we will usually not require a medical certificate.
What are the applicable waiting periods for 'No gap general and major dental for kids'?
If you join an eligible Hospital and Extras cover the standard waiting periods apply for 'No gap general and major dental for kids':
- Two months for general dental
- 12 months for major dental^
^Major dental available in VIC and SA only. Excludes orthodontics and hospital treatments.
I need to have my wisdom teeth removed. Am I covered?
There is a 12 month waiting period for the extraction of wisdom teeth in hospital. If you are planning on having your wisdom teeth removed by a dentist in private practice, there is a two month waiting period.
The dentist's account for the extractions would attract a benefit as long as you hold an Extras cover that offers general dental benefits. If you are likely to be admitted to hospital for the removal of your wisdom teeth, you will also need to have Hospital cover to cover hospital charges such as theatre fees and accommodation.
For full details, please contact us.
What is meant by calendar year benefits in my Extras cover?
Extras benefits are paid by us on a per calendar year basis. We define a calendar year as 1 January to 31 December no matter what date you join.
What is electronic claiming?
With electronic claiming you can claim your Extras services treatment on the spot. Simply swipe your membership card at the provider's room. The fund sends the applicable benefit directly to the provider and all you need to pay is the balance.
What is the Medical Gap Scheme?
If your doctor or specialist charges more than the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for your hospital treatment, it's up to you to pay the 'gap'.
With our Medical Gap Scheme, your doctor agrees to the fee charged for services and bills us directly. So in most cases, there's no gap and no bill, and if there is a gap, you will know the maximum amount you will need to pay prior to your treatment as the doctor needs to provide you with Informed Financial Consent.
What is a Minimum Benefit period?
A Minimum Benefit period is a period of time where specific services will not be covered in a private hospital. Once you have served the Minimum Benefit period, you will be entitled to full cover in a private hospital for those services.
If a service is covered with Minimum Benefits, this means you will be covered with your choice of doctor for shared room accommodation in a public hospital only. If you go to a private hospital for a specific service that has Minimum Benefits, it is likely to result in large out-of-pocket expenses.
What is an exclusion?
If a service is excluded no benefits are payable for that service on your level of cover.
What are minimum benefits?
For all Working Visa Covers and Guardian Plus Visitors Cover, minimum benefit means you will receive cover for shared room accommodation in a public hospital only with your choice of doctor. If you choose to be treated in a private hospital, you will receive shared room minimum benefits ( as set by the State Government) which may result in large out of pocket.
For all Non-Working Visa Covers (except Guardian Plus Visitors Cover), minimum benefit means we will pay a reduced amount towards your accommodation when you are admitted to hospital. This reduced amount is the same as the minimum benefit for shared room accommodation set by the Australian Government for Australian residents. This benefit amount will vary depending on the type of hospital treatment you receive, length of time you are in hospital and whether it is a public or private hospital. The Minimum Benefit won't cover the full cost of your hospitalisation, which means that you could be left with significant out of pocket expenses.
What happens to my cover if my visa expires or becomes invalid?
Benefits will not be paid for any services covered by your policy when an expired or invalid visa is identified.
What is meant by “medically necessary”?
Medically necessary treatment is defined as treatment that requires urgent medical attention and is deemed necessary by a medical practitioner.
We do not pay benefits for services which are not recognised by Medicare (such as cosmetic surgery that is not clinically necessary) or where a valid Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item number is not provided.
Am I covered for prostheses?
In Australia, surgically implanted prostheses are classified by the government as no gap or known gap prostheses.
- If your doctor chooses a no gap prosthesis you will not have any out-of-pocket expenses to pay where the prosthesis is implanted as part of your hospital treatment.
- If the prosthesis item used is classified as known gap prosthesis, you will have to pay any gap charged by the hospital.
- If you would like to choose a no-gap prosthesis simply ask your specialist – there is one available for all surgical requirements.
Who are recognised providers?
You can claim benefits for services provided to you by providers who are 'recognised' by us and in private practice.
If we do not recognise a particular provider, we will not be able to pay benefits for services they provide to you.
What are considered compensation and damages from other sources?
Benefits are not payable when compensation and/or damages can be claimed from another source.
- Workers' Compensation
- Compulsory Third Party Insurance
- Common Law
- Sports Insurance
- Travel Insurance
We reserve the right to recover any benefits paid in this regard.
Who do I talk to if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint or query regarding your health insurance or the terms and conditions that apply to your health cover, contact us.
We will endeavour to resolve any issues you may have. If you are not satisfied with our response, please contact our Customer Relations Manager in writing:
Customer Relations Manager
PO Box 14639
Melbourne VIC 8001
If you have contacted our Customer Relations Manager in writing and still do not feel satisfied with our response, you may contact the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman on 1800 640 695. This has been established by the Commonwealth Government to deal with enquiries and complaints about any aspect of private health insurance.