SBS Punjabi

Families desperate to find ‘adequate' health cover for visitor visa holders 70 and over

SBS Punjabi

aged parents insurance

Swarn Singh and Jasvir Kaur, the parents of a Shepparton-based Indian-Australian family are looking for an insurance cover that serves their needs. Source: Supplied by Jasleen Kaur.

Published 13 May 2022 at 5:32pm
By Sumeet Kaur, Preetinder Grewal
Source: SBS

While Australian immigration requires that visitor visa holders have overseas visitor health cover, the majority of insurance companies are not willing to cover those aged 70 years and over, an issue which impacts the parents of many migrants.

Published 13 May 2022 at 5:32pm
By Sumeet Kaur, Preetinder Grewal
Source: SBS

  • Visiting Indian parents aged 70 and over struggle to find adequate Australian health insurance
  • Condition 8501 on a visitor visa requires maintaining adequate health cover
  • SBS Punjabi explores the available options
For many migrants, obtaining Australian health insurance for aged family members living overseas is another major hurdle to overcome before they can be reunited with their loved ones. 

It’s something that Shepparton-based Indian Australian Jasleen Kaur has experienced first-hand.

Last week, her father and mother-in-law landed here from India to reunite with their three children settled in Australia.

Ms Kaur tells SBS Punjabi, “After the hard COVID times, finally our parents were able to fly here. Given their age, we have been desperately looking for health cover for them.

“I called prominent insurance companies like Bupa, Medibank, but none are willing to cover them due to their age," she says.

The elderly parents of migrants who come to Australia at the end of their working lives on tourist/visitor visas are likely to need increased medical care and other services in their later years.

Furthermore, sponsoring families must pay for health insurance and out-of-pocket costs for their parents, and assume responsibility for any taxpayer debt incurred from a medical emergency.

Highlighting the difficulty in obtaining health cover for this age group, Sydney-based migration agent Rajwant Singh says visitor visa condition 8501 clearly stipulates that a visa holder must maintain "adequate health insurance" for the duration of their stay in Australia.

"The problem is that most of the big Australian insurance companies are denying health cover on these conditions for people aged 70 and over.”

Medibank's option for aged visitors, but it denies health cover for condition 8501. Source: Supplied

“When the government has made this condition, there should be some kind of coordination between insurance companies and government,” he argues.

SBS Punjabi contacted the Department of Home Affairs to get a statement about their dealings with insurance companies.

What’s the solution?

Mr Singh says that getting health cover from the home country is the only possible solution right now as it will cover the risk across the travel period.

“One company is doing the insurance for this age group here in Australia, but the waiting period before one can get the insurance benefits is two weeks from the landing time,” he says.

Does overseas health insurance really work here?

The two most important parameters that families must consider before buying insurance are the cost and the benefits, which may further include the level of customer care and the fast claim process.

Mr Singh suggests using the latest cashless insurance offered by a few Indian companies, just like in Australia.

“Previously, you had to spend initially from your pocket and then get reimbursed. But a new health insurance system is flourishing in India. Foreign companies are collaborating with Indian companies and are providing new insurance methods," he says.

Ms Kaur, whose aged parents have been in the country for a week now, says, “I will be getting insurance next week from Allianz, the only company here providing the cover, but till then, if something happens, who will be responsible?”

“It’s kind of denying the basic rights to the aged parents of many Australian citizens and permanent residents who will always be totally dependent on family for care,” she says.

Disclaimer: This article's content and audio are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. For specific visa advice, people are urged to check with the Department of Home Affairs or contact a trustworthy registered migration agent or insurance company in Australia. 

Click on the audio player at the top of the page to listen to this conversation in Punjabi. 

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