Individuals and Travellers

Significant costs and services in short supply

The health requirement is designed to protect the Australian health care system from significant costs and ensure that additional pressure is not put on health care and community services that are in short supply.

If a significant medical condition is identified a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC) must provide an opinion as to whether the condition or disease is likely to:

  • result in significant health care and community service costs if the visa is granted
  • require the use of Australian health care or community services that are in short supply.

When providing their opinion the MOC must consider services likely to be required by a hypothetical person with a condition of the same form and severity. They cannot take into account any non-medical individual circumstances.

For example, a MOC is unable to take into account any claims that you will not utilise available public services because you have private health insurance or significant personal funds.

Significant health care and community service costs

The policy threshold for the level of costs regarded as significant is currently AUD 40 000. The calculation of this figure incorporates data on health and welfare service costs per capita.

Significant costs are assessed:

  • for temporary visas applicants, by taking into account their period of stay in Australia
  • for permanent visa applicants:
    • over a five year period, or
    • three years for those aged 75 or older.

Exception: If you have a permanent or ongoing condition and the course of the disease is reasonably predictable, the MOC will determine the estimated costs over the period of your remaining life expectancy. This means that if you have a serious health condition you may meet the health requirement for a temporary visa, but not for a permanent visa.

Diseases or conditions that result in significant costs

No diseases or health conditions automatically result in a failure to meet the health requirement on significant cost grounds. This is because the likely costs will depend on the form and severity of the condition.

However, the five most common diseases that permanent visa applicants who have failed the health requirement have been identified with are:

  • intellectual impairment
  • HIV infection
  • functional impairment
  • renal disease or failure
  • cancer.

If a MOC assesses you as unable to meet the health requirement on the grounds of significant cost, your visa application will be refused unless a health waiver is available and exercised.

Safeguarding access to health care and services

You will not meet the health requirement if a MOC determines that your condition is likely to 'prejudice the access' of Australian citizens or permanent residents to health care and community services in short supply. In other words, if your condition is likely to limit access of Australian citizens or permanent residents to health care and community services in short supply, then the applicant will not meet the health requirement.

When determining which health services are in short supply we take our advice from the Department of Health. Currently, health services in short supply include:

  • organ transplants
  • dialysis.

If a MOC assesses you as unable to meet the health requirement because you have a disease or condition that is likely to require the use of health care and community services in short supply, your visa application will be refused unless a health waiver is available and exercised.