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Australian Health Care Card Benefits and Eligibility

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Anneke Van Aswegen Updated: 11 May 2020
Types of Health Insurance

When living on a restricted income or pension, you might be wondering what else you can do to save money. If you receive a Centrelink payment or earn a low income, you may be eligible for a government health care card, which you can use to reduce the cost medications and medical services.

In this article, we’ll focus on the different types of health care cards you might qualify for and the benefits you can expect to receive.

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What is a health care card?

The Australian Government issues specific groups of people, such as pensioners and low-income households, with health care cards (HHC) that generally entitles you to certain concessions, which may also be available to your partner and dependent children. For example, cheaper medications and medical services.

Health care card benefits

Depending on the state you live in and which concession card you have, you and in some cases your partner and/or dependent children might benefit from:

Other concessions you might also qualify for, depending on your state, territory governments and local councils, include:

Different types of health care cards available in Australia

The type of card you are eligible for depends on your unique situation. Each card type has its specific entitlements and limits. Be sure to carefully review the details of each HHC on humanservices.gov.au.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Older Australians who are pension age and do not receive an income support payment from the Australian Government or Department of Veterans’ Affairs may qualify for this card, with which you can get cheaper medication and medical services.

Pensioner Concession Card (PPC)

As a PPC holder, you can typically get discounted medical services funded by the Australian Government and cheaper medicine through the PBS. Your partner and dependent children might also be able to benefit. This card is usually valid for 2 years, after which you will generally receive a new card on your birthday.

Low Income Health Care Card

These cards are typically available to Australian residents that earn an income below the limit as assessed on an 8-week period before you submit your claim.

Family dynamic Weekly income Income within 8-week period
Single without children $556 $4,448
Single with 1 dependent child $960 $7,680
Couple without children $960 $7,680
Couple with 1 child $994 $7,950
For each extra child, add $34 $272

Source: Australian Government Department of Human Services (February 2019)

The total income that gets assessed generally includes your:

Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card

This HHC is generally available to Australians between 16 and 25 years old, that study full time and received a Carer Allowance HCC before their 16th birthday. You will usually receive a letter to renew your card before it’s expiry date.

Foster Child Health Care Card

This type of card is for people caring for a foster child so that the child can have access to the PBS concessions and medical services funded by the Australian Government. Such a card will be issued in the child’s name and sent out every 6 months, depending on the foster care arrangements.

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Health care card eligibility

You may qualify for an HHC if you fall into one of the groups above or live in Australia and meet the residency rules, while also receiving one or more of the below support payments or supplements from the Australian Government, including:

How to apply for a health care card

To get a health care card in Australia you need to visit the Australian Government Department of Human Services website and sign-up to the myGov account, which you can then link to your Centrelink online account. Once you’re logged into myGov, select Centrelink and follow the steps. After that, when you want to claim, simply go to myGov and return the correct claim forms and supporting documents. 

Be sure to review the criteria of each health card you think you might qualify for on humanservices.gov.au before applying.

Do you need private health insurance when you have a health care card?

Whether private health cover will benefit you or not depends on your unique requirements and the state you live in. Although health care cards may provide you with cheaper medicines and certain medical services, you might still need treatments and services that are not covered by Medicare and would thus be out-of-pocket expenses. For example, physiotherapy, private hospital accommodation and podiatry.

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