– 18 November 2017 saw the introduction of a new visa condition that will be attached to most temporary visas
This visa condition will apply to most temporary visa holders, most of whom are not eligible for Medicare.
Many temporary visas have a requirement that the applicant hold suitable health insurance for grant and that they continue to do so whilst in Australia on their visa.
A definition of “Adequate arrangements for health insurance” has been added to the Migration Regulations. This allow the Minister to specify what kind of health insurance will meet visa requirements.
This Condition will require that the visa holder not have an ‘outstanding public health debt’. Additional amendments to the Migration Regulations 1994 will also assist to clarify what is meant by ‘adequate health insurance’ in cases where it is a requirement for the grant of the visa.
What are the additional amendments clarifying adequate health insurance?
Some visa holders are required (for example, through Condition 8501) to maintain “adequate arrangements for health insurance” – either in the form of travel insurance or other specific health insurance.
The amendment provides a power to enable the minister to specify the requirements for adequate health insurance through a legislative instrument, and will also provide that where the requirement is not specified by legislative instrument, the insurance must be considered adequate in the circumstances by the Department.
These amendments will assist temporary visa holders by ensuring that they understand they are liable to pay the costs associated with their use of Australia’s health care system.
Currently, if such costs are unpaid, the financial burden falls onto the public health care system. The issue regarding public health debts has been raised as a significant concern by the State and Territory health authorities.
What happens then when a temporary visa holder uses a public or private health care service and can’t afford to pay? They incur a debt to the health care providers who are ultimately funded by the government.
In a situation like this the Department will encourage the visa holder to make the payment.
A failure to pay will constitute a breach of condition, and as with all visas, the breach of a condition is grounds for cancellation of the visa. However, the preferred option in such cases is for the debt to be repaid and where the decision is made to cancel the visa, this would be made on a case by case basis.
The easiest way to avoid breaching this condition is to have adequate Private Health Insurance if you are a temporary Visa holder, and a number of Health Insurance Providers have packages ready made for Temporary Visa Holders.
Need more information on adequate health insurance or immigration questions?
If you have any questions regarding the above, please speak with us today to discuss your migration options, health insurance coverage, or answer any questions.