What is the Commonwealth health seniors card
Even if you're not eligible for a Pension Concession Card, you may still be able to access more affordable medicines and health care services thanks to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC).
In this guide, we explain exactly what the CSHC is, how you can benefit from having one, and the eligibility criteria you need to meet to get it.
If you’re aged 66 or over and not eligible for an age pension, you may be entitled to a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.
The CSHC offers reduced rates on medication and reduced out-of-hospital expenses.
It doesn’t cover things like ambulance services, which means you may still benefit from private ambulance cover and health insurance.
What is the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a card that entitles you to cost savings on medications and certain health care services. It can be issued as a physical card or stored in a digital wallet. The card is renewed each calendar year by Services Australia.
How do I qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
To be eligible for the card, you need to:
Have reached Age Pension age, which at time of writing is 66 years old or older
Not be receiving a Department of Veterans Affairs service pension
Be an Australian citizen residing in Australia, a permanent Australian resident, or hold another special category visa (such as a permanent visa)
Meet the requirements of a CSHC income test.
Your eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is determined by Services Australia.
What is the difference between a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card and a health care card?
The only difference between the CSHC and the Low Income Health Care Card are the eligibility criteria.
To be eligible for the Low Income Health Care Card, you need to be:
Aged 19 or over
Live in Australia as an Australian citizen or be on an eligible visa
Meet the requirements of an annual income test.
Can you get a seniors health card if you work full time?
Yes, you can get a CSHC if you’re working full time. However, it depends on your annual, adjusted taxable income.
Services Australia will consider account based income streams when determining your eligibility for a CSHC. Centrelink income and tax-free pensions or benefits (such as Disability Support Pension) will also be factored into consideration.
When applying for a CSHC, you may be required to provide your tax file number to Services Australia so that your income can be assessed.
What is the income limit for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
From September 20th, 2020, you are only eligible for a CSHC if you earn no more than:
$55,808 a year for single people
$89,290 a year for couples
$111,616 a year for couples who are separated by illness, respite care, or prison.
Can self funded retirees get a health care card?
Yes, self funded retirees who are Age Pension age may get a CSHC if they do not satisfy the income and asset requirements (means test) for the Age Pension.
What are the benefits of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
There are four main benefits of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. These are:
Access to medicines that are on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at a reduced, concessional rate
Bulk-billed doctor visits (at your doctor's discretion)
Cheaper out-of-hospital costs via the Medicare Safety Net
Cheaper energy bills due to quarterly Energy Supplement payments.
You can also use your card to access special discounts and offers across a wide range of services from both public health providers and private businesses. This means overall cheaper health care.
What discounts can I get with a health care card?
Having a CSHC means you can get discounts on medicines that are covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), resulting in cheaper prescription medicines.
With the Low Income Health Care Card, you can also get some of the benefits that you’d receive with the CSHC.
Does the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card cover ambulance journeys?
This depends on where you're based and the regulations set by your state or territory government.
In some Australian states and territories, your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will cover the cost of an ambulance journey.
In others, the card doesn't provide ambulance cover, and you'll either need to pay for it yourself or claim on your private health insurance.
Can anyone else be covered by my Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?
Your card only covers your expenses. If your partner meets the eligibility criteria, they will need to apply for their own card.
Children can’t be covered by the card either, though they may be able to qualify for the Low Income Health Care Card if they meet the criteria.
Do you need a CSHC and private health insurance?
There are some instances when having both a CSHC and private health insurance is a good idea.
For example, if you live in a state where the card doesn’t cover ambulance journeys, you’ll be left to cover that cost out of your own pocket – unless you have the right insurance.
The card also doesn’t cover health services such as physiotherapy, glasses & contact lenses, general dental work, or podiatry, which may be covered by private health insurance. Hospital care as a private patient also isn’t covered.
If you're likely to need any of those services, then private health insurance can help to minimise your out-of-pocket expenses.
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing private cover is to thoroughly compare your options to find a plan that best suits your unique health needs. This way you can get the best bang for your buck.
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This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.