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Australian Health Care Card Benefits and Eligibility

Megan Fraser Updated: 03 May 2022
Types of Health Insurance

When living on a restricted income or pension, it can be quite challenging to make your income work for you and your requirements. As a result, 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 of medications and medical services.

Learn more about the different types of health care cards you might qualify for and the benefits you can expect to receive. Find out how to qualify for concession cards and other important factors you need to take into consideration.

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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:

Take note: Low income health care card benefits depend on several different factors so you may want to check with your local government to see which benefits you are eligible for.

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 HCC on Depending on you circumstances, you may be eligible for a low income HCC, foster carer benefits or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

Older Australians who are pension age and do not receive an income support payment from the 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 Government and cheaper medicine through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 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 who earn an income below the limit as assessed on an 8-week period before submitting your claim. The income or assets test will determine whether your eligible for the health care card which makes it easier for low earners to access health services Australia.

Family dynamic Weekly income Income within 8-week period
Single without children$636.00 $5,088.00
Single with 1 dependent child $1,094.00 $8,752.00
Couple without children $1,094.00 $8,752.00
Couple with 1 child $1,128.00 $9,024.00
For each extra child, add $34 $272

Source: Australian Government Department of Human Services (May 2021)

The total income that gets assessed generally includes your:

Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card

This HCC 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 someone else’s child in a foster care arrangement. so that the child can have access to the PBS concessions and medical services funded by the Government. Such a card will be issued in the child’s name and sent out every 6 months, depending on the foster care arrangements.

health care card illustration

Who is entitled to a health care card in Australia

Eligibility for a health care card typically depends on several different factors. 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 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.

Frequently asked questions and answers

  • What discounts can I get with a health care card?

    If you are a holder of a low income health care card, you’ll typically be entitled to cheaper medication from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. You may also be able to get discounts on your electricity and gas bills, public transport fares, vehicle registrations and property and water rates. However, this generally depends on your state or territory government and local council.
  • Can my partner use my health care card?

    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 not be able to access reduced-rate medical appointments or bulk billing as these are typically given at your providers discretion.
  • What is the income cut off for a health care card?

    If you’d like to apply for a low income health care card you’ll need to meet the income test. According to the Australian Government Department of Human Services, you’ll need to earn less than $55,808 a year if you’re single. $89,290 a year for couples. $111,616 a year for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison.
  • Does a health care card cover dental?

    Yes, as a concession card holder, you’ll typically be able to access limited public dental services in most states and territories. These typically include emergency dental services and referrals to specialist services, for instance orthodontics in a hospital.

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