Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: How to apply and what it covers

The concession card entitles older Australians to cheaper health care. Source: Getty.

Health care costs in Australia can leave a big dent in people’s finances but, if you’re over Age Pension age, did you know you could actually save money by applying for a free Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

The concession card entitles older Australians to cheaper health care, as long as you meet a number of eligibility requirements, including being an Australian resident currently residing in the country.

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for the card, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be over pension age
  • You do not quality for a payment from the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • You’re required to meet an income test
  • You must be an Australian resident, currently residing in the country

While there is no assets test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, your income must be less than $54,929 a year if you are single, or $87,884 per couple. However, if you are a couple that has been separated by illness, respite care or prison, the income limit is $109,858.

If you have a child in your care, for example a grandchild who lives with you full-time, you’re entitled to an additional $639.60 on top of these sums.

How do I apply?

You can apply for a card online by simply logging into your MyGov account, after ensuring that you meet all of the requirements.

If you do not have a MyGov account though, you can claim your card by visiting the Department of Human Services’ website and completing a ‘Claim for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card’ form. Alternatively, visit the nearest service centre or call Centrelink’s self-service helpline.

What are the benefits?

With your card you can get cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and bulk billed doctor visits – if offered by your general practitioner.

Your card could also land you a bigger refund for out-of-pocket medical costs not covered by Medicare, according to the Department of Human Services.

Some state and territory governments also offer additional discounts, such as reduced electricity and gas bills, lower water rates and lowered fares for public transport. For example, those living in the Australian Capital Territory can access free emergency ambulance transport, while eligible Queenslanders can can receive a subsidy of 20 per cent – up to a maximum of $200 per year – on their gross property rates.

To find out what concessions are on offer where you live, click here.

What if my circumstances change?

If your circumstances change, for example if you move house, return to work or decide to leave Australia, you must let the Department of Human Services know within 14 days.

If you are simply going on holiday overseas, don’t worry, you don’t need to let them know. However, if you are emigrating or plan to be out of the country for more than 19 weeks you must declare this in advance.

The simplest way to update your details or notify the department of any change in circumstance is to log on to your MyGov account online. You can also use the Express Plus Centrelink app or the self-service phone line. However, if you’d prefer to make any changes in person then you can always visit your nearest service centre.

Read more: How to get the most out of your Seniors Discount Card.

Do you have a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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