Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
As you get older, you may worry about how you will be able to carry on funding your health care. For many seniors, your health needs may be changing at a time when your income is decreasing.
If you already have private health insurance, you may worry about how to afford to maintain enough cover for your needs. If you don’t already have health insurance, Lifetime Health Cover loading fees may make you feel that you cannot afford to compare health insurance. Even if you can afford to continue being a health fund member, you may worry about meeting the out-of-pocket costs that are not covered by this. This may seem like a scary prospect, but there is hope.
Thankfully, there are various concession cards that can help you out. One of these is the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC). This can lower your costs for PBS medicines. It can also help with the costs of other health services.
Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Eligibility
Could you be eligible for the CSHC? You must satisfy the following eligibility criteria.
- You are an Australian resident
- You are not serving a waiting period as a new Australian resident
- You are of Age Pension age, but are not eligible for the Age Pension
- You are not receiving Social Security or DVA benefits
- You must provide Centrelink with the Tax File Number for you and your partner (or be exempted from doing this)
- You must meet the adjusted taxable income criteria. This is currently $50,000 (singles) and $80,000 (couples). For dependent children, the threshold goes up by $639.60 per child. Not sure what counts as taxable income? Check with Centrelink to confirm. Super payments for over 60s are usually tax-free, but this is not always the case.
How It Works
The CSHC entitles you to discounts on PBS medicines. You may also benefit from being eligible for the Medicare Safety Net, which would reduce your out-of-hospital costs on medical services assuming that you meet the threshold. Another major benefit is bulk-billing rates for doctor appointments. GPs are encouraged to adopt bulk-billing, but they are not obliged to do so.
The CSHC does not cover your dependents. If you want them to be able to benefit too, there is an alternative concession card. The Low Income Health Care Card offers the same benefits as the CSHC but also covers dependents.
Getting the Card
You can register your claim online via an Intent to Claim. In effect, this informs Centrelink of your intention to apply for a concession card. You will need to make your claim within 14 days of your Intent to Claim. You can also claim by paper form, by telephone or in person at a Centrelink centre.
Need help with your health care costs as you get older? This is a big concern for many seniors. Don’t forget to compare health cover – it may not cost as much as you think. Beyond this, concession cards can make things a bit easier. For example, the CSHC can help with buying PBS medicines and can also reduce medical costs. This can be a big help for many seniors but not everyone will be eligible.