Generally speaking older Australians (with the exception of DVA veterans or their spouses) can qualify for assistance from the government towards the cost of health care and pharmaceuticals through either the Pensioner Concession Card or through the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. In simple terms the Pensioner Concession card is provided to recipients of the age pension. Where a senior does not qualify for the aged pension they have the option of taking advantage of an additional â€œsafety-netâ€ in the form of the Commonwealth Seniorâ€™s Health Card. The DVA issues separate health cards to veterans, their war widows and widowers and dependents to ensure they have access to health and other care services.
Pensioner Concession Card
The Pensioner Concession Card is automatically provided to senior Australians who receive any one of a number of Centrelink payments, including the Age Pension. Holders of the pensioner concession card are able to make use of Australian Government health concessions and get help with the cost of living by reducing the cost of certain goods and services.
A Pensioner Concession Card entitles the holder to reduced cost medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. They may also be entitled to various concessions from the Australian Government. These could include:
- Bulk billing for doctor’s appointments
- More refunds for medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
- Assistance with hearing services through the Department of Health Office of Hearing Services website, and
- Discounted mail redirection through Australia Post.
Holders are also entitled to various concessions from state and territory governments and local councils such as reductions on property and water rates, energy bills, and fares on public transport. Pensioner Concession Card concessions are different in each state and territory and vary between local councils.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
Where a senior Australian does not qualify for the Pensioner Concession Card they may be able to take advantage of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. To qualify for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card they must have reached Age Pension age but not qualify for a payment from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as well as meet an income test. There is no assets test.
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card provides access to cheaper prescription medicines, Australian government funded medical services, and other government concessions. It provides discounts on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) prescription medicines.
Holders may also get a discount or concession on:
- Bulk billed doctor appointments, at the discretion of the doctor,
- Cheaper out of hospital medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net.
To qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card the recipient should have an annual income of less than:
- $51,500 for singles,
- $82,400 for couples combined, or
- $103,000 for couples combined but separated by illness.