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The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
As you age, you may need more support to keep up with your health and wellbeing needs. If you’re not eligible for a Pension Concession Card, don’t worry. The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card supports eligible Australians of pension age to access cheaper health care, medications and services – without an asset test.
Types of health and concession cards for older Australians
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Pensioner Concession Card
- State-based Seniors Card
Who is eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
To be eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC), you must:
- Be of age pension age (but not be eligible to claim an age pension or payment from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs)
- Be an Australian resident living in Australia
- Meet an income test (but not an asset test)1.
What is age pension age?
Age pension age for men and women is 65.52.
What is the income test?
The income test for the CSHC is based on:
- Your adjusted taxable income – for the CSHC this includes your taxable income, investment losses, reportable superannuation contributions and more3
- A deemed amount from account based income streams – deeming rules work out a consistent rate for the income you receive from assets. This might include savings accounts, term deposits, investments and shares4
Income test limits vary based on if you’re single or a couple, separations, respite care and any children in your care. They are adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price Index.
The income test is not affected by your assets (like your family home). Changes were made to the Australian age pension assets test in 2007, and some older Australians were no longer eligible for a pension. However, you’re still eligible for a CSHC even if you stopped receiving pension benefits after those changes5.
Do I qualify for a CSHC if I already have a State-based Seniors Card?
Each State and Territory has its own Seniors Card6. Eligibility and entitlements differ across States, but these free cards usually offer discounts on transport, electricity and gas bills, rates and more. To be eligible, you generally need to be over 60 and working less than 20 hours a week (or not at all).
Am I eligible for a Pensioner Health card?
If you’re eligible for the age pension, it’s likely you’re also able to get a Pensioner Concession Card. This is separate from both the Commonwealth and State-based seniors cards.
The Pensioner Concession Card provides access to cheaper health care, prescriptions, and some other savings when you receive the age pension or other Centrelink payments. Benefits of a Pensioner Concession Card include7:
- Cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- Bulk billed doctor visits (check if your doctor applies this benefit)
- Access to higher refunds when you reach the Medicare Safety Net
- Help with hearing services
- Mail redirection discounts.
How to claim your CSHC?
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:
- Financial documents like your tax file number, superannuation, and income records
- Residence documents like visas and date of Australian citizenship8.
If you and your partner are both eligible for a card, you need to make individual applications to receive a card each.
What are the benefits of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
A CSHC entitles you to benefits including:
- Cheaper medicine for medications listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme9
- Bulk billed doctor visits (check with your doctor if this applies – it’s not compulsory for them to offer bulk billed visits)
- A higher refund when your medical costs reach the Medicare Safety Net10.
Do you need a CSHC and private health insurance?
Everyone’s circumstances are different. But having a CSHC doesn’t mean you can forget your 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 doesn’t provide any benefits for services not covered by Medicare.
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. 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 surgery or treatment you need now, it’s a smart idea to keep a policy customised for your needs.
Take the time to compare policies and check the inclusions so you’re not paying for any services you don’t need, and you’re covered for things that are important to you. 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.
Can my family talk to Centrelink about my Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
Yes, you can nominate someone to represent you with Centrelink to discuss your card11.
Need help comparing health insurance policies?
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 help you find a health policy that meet your needs from our range of providers. Start comparing online today, or call us on 13 19 20.
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