Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Are You Eligible?

What is the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) and who is eligible to receive cheaper medicines and government-funded medical services using the card?

The CSHC is a card that gives you a discount on prescription medications, government-funded medical services at low or no cost and other government concessions.

Each state and territory in Australia also has their own Seniors Card, which usually gives you a concession on things like your energy and gas bill, rates, medical aids, public transport and taxis and recreation centres. You can use your Seniors Card from one state in another state or territory when you’re travelling around.

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Am I eligible for the CSHC?

You can get the CSHC if you:

  • Have reached Age Pension qualifying age (65 years or older, depending on your year of birth)
  • Are not eligible for an Age Pension payment or a Veterans’ Pension payment
  • Meet an income test
  • Provide your Tax File Number to the Australian Department of Human Services
  • Are living in Australia (as either an Australian resident or a special visa holder)

The income test is that your taxable income, including superannuation payments from account-based pensions, must be less than:

  • Singles: $53,799 per year
  • Couples combined (couples living together): $86,076
  • Couples separated by illness, respite care, or prison: $107,598
  • Plus $639.60 for each dependent child you care for.

These earning amounts are valid as at May 2018 and are reviewed by the Australian Department of Human Services on 20 September each year in line with inflation.

There is no asset test for the card.

If you intend to leave Australia for a holiday or to move and live overseas permanently, you must tell Centrelink before you go, as it may affect whether you can keep your card.


What can you get using the card?

The CSHC will give you a concession discount on the following medications and medical services:

  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription medicines
  • Bulk-billed doctor appointments (if your doctor bulk-bills)
  • Cheaper out-of-hospital medical expenses (public or private system) through the Medicare Safety Net
  • Energy Supplement payments (also known as the quarterly supplement)

According to Centrelink, you should show your CSHC card or your Medicare card to the pharmacist in order to receive the concession on PBS medicine.

With the CSHC, you can also sometimes get a concession discount from some health, household, transport, education, and recreation services offered by local state governments and private businesses. For example, card holders get cheaper railway travel on Great Southern Rail services such as The Indian Pacific, The Ghan and The Overland. Nothing to get steamed up about there – they are certainly on the right track.

Who is covered by my Commonwealth Seniors Heath Card?

If you have a CSHC, only you are covered.

If your partner wants to get CSHC benefits, they will need to apply for their own CSHC.

If you have any dependent children, they won’t be eligible for the CSHC unless they’re over 65 years old, but they might be eligible for the Low Income Health Care Card if they earn a low income.

Do I still need private health insurance if I have the card?

Even if you have the CSHC, you will still benefit from having private health insurance because it offers cover for services not covered under Medicare. Here are some examples of things that may be covered by health insurance extras cover but not by Medicare:

  • Ambulance services: Some states and territories will pay for an ambulance trip if you have the card, but in other states and territories you either need to have health insurance or to pay for it out of your own pocket.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Optometrists and glasses
  • General dental
  • Podiatry services

Private health insurance may also be a good option if you are not eligible for the CSHC, as insurance can make a substantial contribution towards your medical costs and gives you more choice of service and timing. It’s important to consider taking out health insurance carefully though, because every individual’s situation and needs are different.

The table below features a snapshot of hospital & extras policies on Canstar’s database with links to providers’ websites, sorted by provider name (alphabetically). Please note the results are based on a couple aged over 60 in NSW.

The article was originally published by TJ Ryan on November 19, 2015.


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