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Overseas holidays and your health insurance

31 August, 2018
Woman about to go on a holiday

Does my CBHS Health Fund cover overseas medical costs?

CBHS can only provide cover for medical and hospital expenses you incur in Australia. Australian private health insurance hospital cover can provide benefits for any medical service listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), but Medicare only provides cover for medical expenses incurred in Australia, not overseas.


Do I need Travel insurance?

Yes! Travel insurance is highly recommended when you are looking for protection against the cost of overseas medical expenses.

Travel insurance policies normally provide cover for:

  • emergency hospital and medical expenses;
  • hospital accommodation,
  • surgical fees,
  • ambulance transport,
  • emergency dental costs, and
  • Additional accommodation and travel costs that arise if you must remain overseas for longer than planned due to medical reasons

Looking for reliable holiday cover? Check out CBHS’ travel insurance partner Allianz Travel Insurance.


Do I need travel insurance to get a Visa?

Depending on the country you’re travelling to, you may need to take out an adequate level of medical travel insurance cover before you can gain visa approval.

We highly recommend you take out travel insurance whether or not your Visa depends on it.


Does health insurance cover overseas cosmetic surgery?

‘Medical tourism’, or travelling to another country for cheaper cosmetic surgery, is becoming increasingly popular.

If you were planning on travelling overseas to go under the knife, don’t expect your health fund to cover the costs.

Australian private health insurance does not provide overseas cosmetic surgery cover. Australian private health insurance can only cover you in Australia and only covers services for which Medicare pays a benefit.


I bought some new glasses overseas. Can I claim these with CBHS?

Any goods or services have been purchased overseas cannot meet the provider standards set out in the Private Health Insurance (Accreditation) Rules


What is a travel vaccine?

Many diseases that have been controlled or eliminated in Australia might still be active in the country you plan to visit.

A vaccine is a dead or weakened version of a virus or bacteria that is introduced into the body. It prepares your immune system to fight and overcome the disease if you become infected with it in the future.

Most Australian travellers will need to be vaccinated. It’s especially important for the young, the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.

What vaccines are necessary depend on the country/countries you plan to visit. Please check with your GP for full details, and check out the Government’s Smart Traveller Guide on Health Checks and Vaccinations.


Can you claim travel vaccines on health insurance?

While Medicare covers the consultation fees for your vaccination, it does not cover the travel vaccines themselves.

Depending on your level of cover with CBHS and if the vaccines are not available on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, you may be able to claim them with CBHS. Please email with the name and cost of the drug for full details.


I am cruising. Do I still need travel insurance?

Yes, even if you’re still in Australian waters.             

Onboard doctors’ fees are not covered by Medicare or your health insurance and can be costly.

Medicare benefits are not available if you are travelling between an Australian port and a foreign port or between two foreign ports.

Medicare benefits are only available if you are cruising between two Australian ports and only if you are treated by a Medicare-eligible doctor.

Travel insurance will cover you for:

  • emergency on board medical treatment, and
  • helicopter medical evacuations

For more information, check out the Government’s Smart Traveller Guide to Cruises


Can I suspend my health insurance membership whilst I am traveling?

You can suspend or ‘freeze’ your CBHS health insurance membership if:

  • you have held a CBHS membership for 12 months or more, and
  • are temporarily absent from Australia for more than 6 weeks but not exceeding 36 months

You must suspend your membership before you leave for your overseas destination. You cannot apply to suspend your membership after you have already left the country.

When you return to Australia, you will need to notify CBHS ASAP to reinstate your membership effective from the date you re-enter Australia.


Can I claim benefits while my membership is suspended?

No. While your health insurance membership is suspended, you are not covered to make claims for any rebates or benefits from CBHS.

Do my waiting periods keep going while my membership is suspended?

No. While your membership is suspended, your waiting periods are ‘on hold’. You will be able to continue serving the rest of your waiting periods when your membership resumes.


Do I incur any new waiting periods whilst I am suspended?

Yes. If a medical condition develops during the period of suspension, then that condition may be deemed to be a Pre-existing Condition. 

A waiting period of 12 months may apply to services related to that condition except where the services are:

  • psychiatric
  • rehabilitative, or
  • palliative care

 Which will incur a 2-month waiting period as per the PHI Act.

 To find more details on pre-existing conditions, check out the PHI Ombudsman website.


Do I pay Medicare Levy Surcharge during suspension?

Yes. When your membership is suspended, if you earn above the income threshold you will have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge for that tax year. This can cost you an extra 1% to 1.5% in tax, depending on your income.

Check out the CBHS Health Benefit Fund Rules for full terms and conditions.


Where can I go for more information on travelling safely overseas?

The Australian Government, Department or Foreign Affairs and trade, maintain a website with important travel information. This web page also has a 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre.

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