The one thing that won't change if your pension changes next year

We all know the age pension is changing on January 1 and some of us will lose all or part of our pension.

But did you know about what happens with your health care card?

Everybody on the age pension or another form of government payment has access to a health care card – either a Low Income Health Care Card or a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

The good news is that even if you lose your pension on January 1, you’ll still be able to keep your health care card!

Read more: How you can prepare yourself for changes to the age pension

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Department of Human Services General Manager Hank Jongen confirmed that if your pension was cancelled on January 1, you’ll automatically be issued with a Low Income Health Care Card.

“If you are over Age Pension age, they will also receive a non-income tested Commonwealth Seniors Health Card in addition to the Low Income Health Care Card,” he said.

“You will be exempt from the income test requirements for these cards, but will need to continue to meet the other criteria to remain eligible for these cards.”

What happens if you lose your pension in mid or late January – or even later?

Well, unfortunately the health care card deal is only being extended to those who will lose their pension on January 1.

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“It will not apply to customers who will lose eligibility to their pension at a different point in time, unless we retrospectively adjusts their assets to a date in 2016, which then effectively cancels their pension on 1 January 2017,” Jongen said.

“Any customer who loses their pension at a different point in time (other than 1 January 2017) will need to make a claim for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and meet the eligibility criteria including an income test.”

Read more: How the latest age pension reforms could affect you

If you have a Health Card, then you’re probably aware of the benefits it brings.

As a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holder you’re entitled to so many things including:

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– Cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,

– Discounts or concessions on bulk billed doctor appointments,

– Cheaper out of hospital medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net,

– Concessions from state and territory governments, local councils, and private businesses – such as health services, household expenses, transport costs, education costs and recreation expenses

Read more: How changes to the pension assets test could affect the economy

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Jongen said you should check with your state government to find out what concessions are available to you.

“Customers who are not automatically entitled to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card on 1 January 2017 as a result of the new assets test changes can make a claim for the card online or by filling in a claim form,” he said. 

“The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is reissued each year in August if the cardholder remains eligible.”

You can find out more about the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card here

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and for information purposes only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not financial product advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any financial decision you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from an independent licensed financial services professional.