The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) is a senior’s health care card supplied by the Federal Government through Centrelink. It helps discount the cost of some prescription medications and provides access to bulk-billed doctors, plus additional concessions from local and state governments, such as cheaper public transport.
You’ll need to meet some eligibility criteria to receive a CSHC, like being over a certain age and earning income under a set annual threshold.
If you need to see a doctor or specialist and take prescription medications regularly, you could benefit from the Medicare and PBS Safety Nets. Both safety nets work slightly differently.
The Medicare Safety Net is a government-funded scheme that increases your Medicare rebate for eligible out-of-hospital medical expenses if you’ve hit a certain spending threshold in a calendar year.
If you have a CSHC, the Medicare Safety Net can offer a higher reimbursement from Medicare if your expenses for medical treatment exceed certain thresholds in the calendar year.
As a CSHC holder, you’re not only eligible for concession prices on medications under the PBS, but you’re also placed on the PBS Safety Net. So, if you spend over a set amount within a year on PBS medicines ($316.80 for concession patients in 2020),3 you’ll then receive all subsequent PBS prescriptions for free for the rest of the calendar year.
Bear in mind that there might be different brands of the same medication, and more expensive brands typically aren’t covered under the PBS or the PBS Safety Net. To find out if a prescription is listed on the PBS, you can consult your GP or visit the PBS website and search online.
If the medication isn’t covered by the PBS and is more expensive than the capped PBS price, an extras policy with pharmaceuticals cover may help you claim back some of the cost.
|Income test for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card for 2020 (up to 20 September 2020)|
|Couples separated by illness, prison or respite care||$111,616|
|Source: Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Income test. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.|
Adjusted taxable income includes:
Deemed income refers to income you earn through assets like savings accounts, investments, shares and term deposits.5
No, there’s no asset test for the CSHC, only an income test.7 An asset test includes real estate, any payment made for residing in a retirement village, superannuation investments, vehicles, personal belongings and investments like term deposits.
Asset tests are used by the Australian Government when calculating your pension payment (should you be eligible), as it helps provide a broad picture of your wealth and your ability to support yourself should you need to fall back on selling assets.
No, the CSHC doesn’t provide any benefit for services that aren’t covered by Medicare. Neither does private hospital cover – which works in conjunction with Medicare to help subsidise the cost of private hospital care. However, private health insurance can help pay for a range of costs that the CHSC doesn’t cover.
For example, private hospital cover helps you:
*Subject to availability.
Extras cover can be used for a range of out-of-hospital services Medicare doesn’t subsidise, such as physiotherapy, dental and optometry needs.
To help reduce the cost of private health insurance for older Australians, the private health insurance rebate increases as we age. You can receive this rebate as a discount on insurance premiums or as a tax benefit when filling out your tax return.
The Age Pension age, or retirement age, is the age where you can claim the Age Pension (subject to your eligibility which is based on age and the asset test), and the CSHC uses the retirement age when establishing eligibility. Your retirement age depends on when you were born.
To discover more about the CSHC eligibility requirements, you can visit the Department of Social Service’s guide.
|Birth year||New pension age||Date of implementation|
|1 July 1952 – 31 December 1953||65 years and six months||1 July 2017|
|1 January 1954 – 30 June 1955||66 years||1 July 2019|
|1 July 1955 – 31 December 1956||66 years and six months||1 July 2021|
|1 July 1957 and onwards||67 years||1 July 2023|
|Source: Age Pension. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.|
You can read more about the Age Pension’s eligibility requirements on the Department of Social Services’ webpage.
There are two ways you can make a healthcare card application for the CSHC. You can:
You can view the Department of Human Services guide to lodging a CSHC claim here to learn more about claiming a CSHC.
No, the CSHC is not the same as the Pension Concession Card, although they’re both provided by Centrelink and grant similar benefits such as cheaper medicine, health care and additional discounts.
The Pension Concession Card is available to Australians receiving the aged pension from the government, while the CSHC is for Aussies who do not receive a pension or hold a pension concession card.
Yes, if you hold a CSHC, you may receive discounts on several other costs, though these differ between states and local council areas. You could receive discounts for:
Should your personal details change, such as your relationship status, address or income, then you’ll need to contact Centrelink to update your details.
1 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Who can get it. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.
2 About the PBS. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Department of Health, Australian Government. 2019.
3 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme: PBS Safety Net thresholds. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2021.
4 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Income test. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.
5 Deeming. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.
6 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Income test. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.
7 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Income test. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.
8 Commonwealth Seniors Health Card: Benefits. Department of Human Services, Australian Government. 2019.