Subclass 870 Visa Holders – Condition 8501 – Requirement to Maintain Health Insurance – RHCA Relaxation

Condition 8501 is required to be included on all subclass 870 Sponsored Parent Temporary Visas.  

This condition requires the visa holder to maintain adequate health insurance for the duration of their stay in Australia.

However, Department of Home Affairs policy guidance provides a relaxation for those who can access Medicare under a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

At the current time Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements (RHCAs) with eleven countries, being the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland.

The provisions of RHCAs vary, and frequently entitle residents of these countries to obtain a RHCA-specific Medicare card and to receive access to limited subsidised health services for medically necessary treatment while visiting Australia.

It should be noted that simply being a citizen of a country that has a RHCA with Australia may not necessarily entitle a person to access Medicare –  Services Australia is responsible for determining a person’s eligibility to enrol in Medicare under a RHCA.

Importantly for subclass 870 visa holders who have arrived in Australia from a RHCA country if the 870 visa holder has enrolled with Medicare and holds a valid Medicare card issued under a RHCA the Department considers they meet the minimum requirements for adequate arrangements for health insurance given the RHCA covers the visa holder for the entirety of their stay in Australia.

Individuals who have not yet enrolled in Medicare under a RHCA must obtain private health insurance even if they are entitled to Medicare.

In other words private health insurance must be maintained by a subclass 870 visa holder while in Australia until s/he has enrolled in the Medicare system under the applicable RHCA.

A couple of specific additional points:

  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland are not eligible to receive a Medicare card but can access certain Medicare services by presenting their passport. Therefore, for citizens of the Republic of Ireland, the Department considers that evidence of an Irish passport is sufficient to meet the requirement for adequate health insurance.
  • Those who are residents and citizens of Malta or Italy are eligible for a reciprocal Medicare card only for the first six months of their stay in Australia.  This is sufficient to meet the requirement to have adequate arrangements for health insurance at the visa application stage, but these persons will need to make adequate arrangements for health insurance once they cease to be eligible for reciprocal health care to satisfy condition 8501.