If you’re a pensioner or you’re close to the age of retirement, you’ll know how expensive the cost of living can be, especially when it comes to healthcare.
The good news is that the Australian Government supports Australian pensioners with access to cheaper healthcare, medications and services.
We’ll take you through the ins and outs of how the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) works, and how you can get one.
A CSHC entitles you to benefits including:1
Your state or territory government and local council may also lower some expenses for CSHC holders such as electricity and gas bills, property and water rates, healthcare costs (such as ambulance, dental and eye care) and public transport fares.2
To be eligible for a CSHC, you must:3
Age Pension age for men and women is currently as follows:5
The income test for the CSHC is based on:6
To meet the income test, you must earn less than the following:10
Couples separated by illness, respite care, or prison
Add $639.60 to these amounts for each child in your care.
When you reach Age Pension age, the simplest way to claim your card is online.
To claim your card online, you’ll need a myGov account linked to Centrelink. You can set these accounts up online. If you aren’t able to claim online, you can print a form from the Centrelink website.
Whichever way you make your claim for your CSHC card, you may need to provide supporting documents, including:11
After you claim online or by phone, Centrelink will contact you if they need more details from you.12
You can also track the progress of your claim through Centrelink online (via myGov), or through the Centrelink Express Plus mobile app.
If you’re eligible, the card will display in your digital wallet in the app. Plus, Centrelink will post you a hard copy of the card.
Each state and territory also has its own Seniors Card.13 Eligibility and entitlements differ across states, but these cards usually offer discounts on transport, electricity, gas bills and more.
Yes, you can nominate someone to represent you with Centrelink to discuss your card.14
Once you or your family spend a certain amount on PBS medicine, you’ll reach the PBS Safety Net threshold.
The PBS Safety Net threshold usually resets at the beginning of each year, 1 January.
On 1 January 2023, the PBS Safety Net thresholds were updated to $262.80 for concession card holders – but before you meet the threshold, each medicine will cost up to $7.30 for concession card holders.15
Once you reach the threshold, you’ll need to apply for a PBS Safety Net card to get cheaper medicines. You can use this card whenever you get a prescription filled at a pharmacy, and generally, when you show your PBS Safety Net card as a CSHC holder, you can get medicine for free.16
Everyone’s circumstances are different. But having a CSHC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with Private Health Insurance.
While the card offers benefits for medications, doctor visits covered under Medicare, and refunds when you hit the Medicare Safety Net, it won’t necessarily help you access more complex medical treatments and procedures.
With or without the card, you’re entitled to free care in public hospitals via the Medicare system, but depending on where you live, ambulance services may or may not be covered and you could get an unexpected bill after an emergency.
As you enter a new stage of life, your needs and priorities change, and your Health Insurance needs to keep up. For example, as you get older you may want to ensure you have cover for services that are more relevant to seniors such as cataracts, joint replacements and medical devices.
If it’s important to you to have a private room if you need to have a hospital stay, or if you want to avoid being put on a public hospital waiting list for elective surgery or treatment, it could be a smart idea to keep a Private Health Insurance policy suited to your needs.
Take the time to compare policies and check the inclusions so you’re not paying for any services you don't need (like pregnancy!), and make sure you’re covered for things that are important to you as your health needs change. You may find a better deal that covers you for what’s important now, not what you needed years ago when you first bought your policy.
The team here at iSelect can support you to make smart choices about your Private Health Insurance as your lifestyle and health priorities change. We’ll try and help you find a health policy that meets your needs from our range of policies and providers. Start comparing online today, or call us on 1800 784 772.
1 Services Australia - Benefits
2 As above.
3 Services Australia - Who Can Get It
4 Services Australia - Who Can Get It
5 As above.
6 Services Australia - Income Test
7 Services Australia - What Adjusted Taxable Income Is
8 Services Australia - Deeming
9 Services Australia - Income Test
10 As above.
11 Services Australia - Supporting Documents
12 Services Australia - How To Claim
13 Services Australia - Concessions for Older Australians
14 Services Australia - Someone To Deal With Us On Your Behalf
15 Services Australia - PBS Safety Net Thresholds
16 As above.