Australia - Notification of 1 November 2005 changes to the definition the sponsorship undertakings for health and medical related costs.
MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL EXPENSES Regulation 1.20CB(1)(k) for an application made prior to 1 November 2005, pay all medical or hospital expenses for a sponsored person (other than those met by health insurance arrangements) or for an application made on or after 1 November 2005, pay all medical and hospital expenses from treatment administered in a public hospital (other than expenses that are met by health insurance or reciprocal health care arrangements) About these undertakings The aim of this undertaking is to protect the Australian taxpayer from having to meet medical or hospital expenses for sponsored persons. Since 1 November 2005, the undertaking is aimed primarily at costs incurred at public hospitals. This may include costs associated with special medicines required to treat a specific illness or access to special treatment in public hospitals or clinics.
The need for such treatment may have been identified previously eg during the health checks sponsored persons undergo as part of visa processing. It is expected that the sponsor and the sponsored person will make arrangements to cover medical and hospital costs. This undertaking exists to ensure that, if these costs have not been met, the sponsor, not taxpayers, will be responsible for the outstanding costs. This undertaking does not require evidence of health insurance cover, although all 457 visa holders are encouraged to maintain adequate health cover. The sponsor’s obligations would usually be met through arrangements with the sponsored person whereby the sponsor may arrange the necessary health cover for emergency health care and a clear commitment is given by the sponsored person to meet any costs associated with elective surgery, medical check ups, dental visits and medicines.
In most of these cases, the service would not be provided unless payment is made at the time the service is given. The costs owed to doctors or dentists on a personal basis is a matter between the health provider and the patient. Australia has reciprocal health care agreements with certain countries for access to health care services. Sponsors and/or sponsored persons should check eligibility with Medicare, including what may or may not be covered.
This information is available at www.medicareaustralia.gov.au.
Breaches of these undertakings A breach of this undertaking would occur where medical or hospital expenses for a sponsored person have not been paid - note, however, that for an applicant who applied on or after 1 November 2005 the hospital expenses are limited to those in a public hospital - see the wording regulation 1.20CB(1)(k) above.
In some cases, the health requirement may have been waived for a sponsored person (including for a family member of the employee) because the sponsor has agreed to meet all medical or hospital expenses relating to the health condition. When the sponsor is monitored, DIMIA may check that all such expenses have been paid. If not, this would be a breach of this undertaking. What does this mean for employers? The 1 November changes could mean that the health premium required is now cheaper as costs are only to meet those for treatment in a public hospital.
We suggest that you contact your health provider to seek clarification on the costs now involved for applications lodged after 1 November 2005. For those applications lodged before 1 November, employers are still bound by the previous policy of being responsible for all medicals costs. The above information is taken from the Procedures Advice Manual (PAM), DIMIA, 1995.