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International Students And 457 Visa Holders Leaving Millions In Hospital Debts

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Thousands of foreign visa holders who sought medical care at public hospitals have left behind millions in debt

A report published in The Australian states that many international students and 457 visa holders have left millions in hospital debts in Australia.

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In NSW, debt of $15m was recorded in 2011-12 while Victoria recorded almost $12.5m and West Australia saw about $2m debt last year.

NSW annually enrols more than 14,000 patients who do not have Medicare. This excludes emergency departments. The public hospitals in NSW now demand patients who don’t have a medicare give their credit card imprint, cash, a bank cheque or some financial guarantee before they are treated.

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Victoria treated more than 11,000 patients who didn’t hold a Medicare in 2014-15.

Queensland treated 7569 people in 2015-16 who didn’t have a Medicare.

HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS THOUSANDS FOR VISA HOLDERS

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International students and 457 visa holders are required to hold private insurance during their stay in Australia. It is mandatory to hold health insurance in order to obtain visa which often costs anywhere between $1000 per year for an individual to $2000-3500 for a family of two adults and two kids in Australia.

Despite having private medical insurance, many foreign visa holders go to public hospitals who offer them treatment but upon discharge these hospitals are left to chase unpaid bills with insurance companies and patients.

OMBUDSMAN HAS RECEIVED MANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT OVERSEAS VISITORS HEALTH COVER

Foreign visa holders who sign up for Overseas Visitors Health Cover have made several complaints to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman about issues related to what illnesses/conditions come under ‘pre-existing’ conditions and the ‘waiting periods’ offered to them compared to Australians.

The latest annual report from the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman states “Complaints about (rules governing) pre-existing con­ditions also continued to be ­relatively high.

“Unlike Australian residents’ policies, which have strict regu­lations about maximum waiting periods and how pre-existing conditions are defined, many OVHC (overseas visitors health cover) policies are not subject to the same rules. They may impose harsher definitions or lengthier waiting periods.

The report also observed that such circumstances often have larger financial impact on foreign visa holders.

“The financial impact of a condition found to be (pre-existing and not covered by a policy) has the potential to be much larger for visitors than for Australian residents who can access Medicare.”

The Australian stated that in last financial year, the insurance industry collected $475m revenue from foreign nationals and recorded $379m in expenses.

Online Source: SBS Hindi.

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