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Australian Health Care Card Benefits and Eligibility

The Australian Health Care Card is important to the country’s social welfare system. It aims to provide eligible citizens with access to affordable subsidised health services. The government has established this program to ensure that essential health services are accessible to people in specific income brackets or facing particular life circumstances. The card’s benefits include subsidies for prescription medications, medical services, and other related health provisions.
Fact Checked

Updated: 29 May 2024

Although the Health Care Card is well-known among healthcare professionals, many people need to be made aware of its extensive benefits and eligibility requirements. This article aims to clarify the card’s advantages, including its primary health-related benefits and additional support services. By understanding the card’s purpose and scope, you can navigate Australia’s healthcare system more effectively and take full advantage of the benefits provided.

Key facts

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What is a health care card?

Australia provides Health Care Cards to specific groups, such as low-income and pensioners. These cards offer benefits like cheaper medications and medical services. Different types are available, including cards for those with specific benefits, foster carers, low-income earners, and veterans. Cards also offer assistance with medical expenses like dental treatments.

Types of health care cards ​

Whether you’re a pensioner, a low-income earner, a student, or a veteran, there’s generally a card designed with your unique circumstances in mind. This section will delve into the various Health Care Cards available, shedding light on their eligibility criteria and the benefits they offer.

Health Care Card Overview

The Health Care Card, provided by the Australian Government, offers affordable access to prescription medicines via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and various government concessions. Australian residents meeting certain conditions are automatically eligible, and Centrelink will issue the card without a separate application. The card’s validity typically extends for 12 months.

Eligibility for the Health Care Card:

Benefits Include:

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is an initiative designed to provide affordable health care and concessions to eligible senior residents. As we age, it becomes increasingly important to have access to affordable health care, and this card ensures that seniors can receive reduced rates for essential services.

Eligibility Criteria:


Low Income Health Care Card Overview

The Low Income Health Care Card assists Australians with limited earnings by providing access to affordable health care and various concessions, ensuring essential health services are within reach for those on a tight budget.

Eligibility Criteria:


Applying for an HCC

To apply for a health care card in Australia, you should create a myGov account on the Australian Government Department of Human Services website. After that, you must link your Centrelink account to your myGov account. To do this, log into myGov, select Centrelink, and follow the instructions. Once you’ve completed these steps, you can submit your claim by accessing myGov and uploading all the necessary claim forms and supporting documents.

Before applying for a health care card, familiarising yourself with the eligibility criteria for each card type is important. You can find detailed information on the website. Make sure you meet the requirements so that you can streamline the application process.

Do you still need private health insurance?

Although a health care card provides benefits such as reduced medicine costs and certain medical treatments, it may only cover some of your health needs. Depending on your situation and your state, medical services and treatments may not be included in Medicare coverage. This could include expenses such as physiotherapy, stays in private hospitals, and podiatry. This is why private health insurance can be a useful addition to a health care card, as it can cover these extra expenses. It’s important to assess your health needs to determine if private insurance is worth considering.

Applying for a secondary HCC

The Secondary Health Care Card is designed to offer significant financial relief to low-income individuals and families. By obtaining this card, beneficiaries can access a range of healthcare concessions and benefits. These advantages encompass cheaper prescription medicines, the opportunity for bulk-billed doctor visits, and increased Medicare benefits.

To apply for the Secondary Health Care Card:

Case Study: Sarah’s Journey with the Australian Health Care Card System

Sarah, a 28-year-old single mother of two, recently faced a challenging period after losing her job due to company downsizing. With medical bills piling up for her youngest son’s asthma treatments and her savings dwindling, the financial strain was palpable. Although she had heard about the Health Care Card (HCC) in passing, she needed to find out if she qualified or how it could assist her.

A conversation with a close friend led Sarah to explore the benefits of the HCC. After researching and visiting her local Centrelink office, she discovered she was eligible for the Primary Health Care Card due to her current income status. This card brought significant relief: the cost of her son’s asthma medications was drastically reduced under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, she could opt for bulk-billed doctor visits, and she benefited from enhanced refunds through the Medicare Safety Net for her own postponed health check-ups. To her surprise, Sarah also discovered that her state offered further concessions for HCC holders, including reduced utility bills and public transport fares.

The Health Care Card system became a beacon of hope for Sarah during her challenging times. It ensured her family received essential medical care and alleviated other financial burdens, highlighting the importance of being informed about available social welfare benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

In Australia, there are a range of Health Care Cards available that cater to different groups of people in the population. These cards are specifically tailored to meet the needs of low-income earners, pensioners, students, veterans, and foster carers. Depending on the type of card, different benefits and eligibility criteria apply, which means that a wide range of Australians can access affordable healthcare services that are tailored to their circumstances.
After being issued, the Health Care Card is usually valid for a year to allow beneficiaries consistent access to its benefits. Cardholders may need to renew or reapply for the card depending on their eligibility and the type of card they have after the validity period.
The way to get a Health Care Card can differ depending on a person’s individual circumstances. Some Australian residents who satisfy certain requirements may receive the card directly from Centrelink without needing to apply separately. Nevertheless, there may be some card categories or circumstances where individuals will have to begin the application process themselves to avail the benefits of the card.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card has established income limits to determine eligibility. For single individuals, the income threshold is set at $52,796 per year. Couples combined have a limit of $84,472 per year, with special provisions for couples separated due to illness, care, or prison, where the limit is $105,592 per year. These limits ensure that the card reaches those seniors most in need of financial assistance for health care.
Yes, if your partner is named on your concession card, they’ll typically be able to access concessions with your card. All medications will be available from the PBS scheme at a concession rate. However, they may be unable to access reduced-rate medical appointments or bulk billing as these are typically given at your providers discretion.


Megan has extensive experience writing about health and life insurance in Australia. Megan has a special interest in health and wellness. She relies on her background in counselling psychology to convey the latest findings in a manner that is most beneficial to ComparingExperts readers. In every article she writes, Megan aims to uphold the standards of the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association (PHIAA) which ComparingExpert is part of.

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