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A guide to seniors health care cards in Australia

Seniors health care cards can help offset some of your healthcare costs.

A senior woman using a laptop, looking at her credit card.
A senior woman using a laptop, looking at her credit card.

Spending on health care can really eat into your retirement budget. Between GP visits, prescriptions and even the occasional hospital visit, health care costs will typically increase along with the number of candles on your birthday cake.

Seniors health care cards can help offset some of these out-of-pocket costs, so you don’t need to compromise on essential treatment. Here’s what you need to know about seniors health cards in Australia, including the benefits, eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Types of seniors health care cards

There are two main types of seniors health cards in Australia:  

  1. 1

    Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card (CSHC). The Commonwealth Seniors Health Card assists eligible people with certain health and prescription costs. 

  2. 2

    Pensioners Concession Card (PCC). With a Pensioner Concession Card, you may get cheaper PBS prescriptions, concessional rate services and help with hearing services. 

Each card has different eligibility criteria – including different income limits – which we’ll explore in more detail below.

What discounts on health do I get with my seniors health cards?

The benefits of seniors health cards are significant savings on your health and prescription costs.

A Commonwealth Seniors Health Card entitles you to access to the following Australian Government concessions:  

  • Prescription medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at the concessional rate. 

  • Bulk-billed GP consultations, at the discretion of the doctor.  

  • Increased benefits for out-of-pocket, out-of-hospital medical expenses above a certain threshold through the extended Medicare Safety Net. 

A Pensioner Concession Card entitles you to: 

Am I eligible for a seniors health care card?

If you like the sound of those benefits, the next step is to check you’re eligible to receive a seniors health care card.

Pensioner Concession Card eligibility criteria

This card is available to people receiving certain payments from the government like the Age Pension.  To be eligible for the Age Pension, you must be Age Pension age (depending on the year you were born this comes into effect between the ages of 65 and 67), meet residency rules, and fall within the income and assets threshold.  Find out if you’re eligible for the Age Pension and Pensioner Concession Card at Services Australia.

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card eligibility criteria 

If your income is above the Age Pension threshold, you may be eligible to apply for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card instead. To receive this concession card, you must be:  

You’ll also be subject to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card income limits – as of 20 September 2023, these are a maximum of $95,400 a year if you’re single or $152,640 a year for couples.1 Additional considerations may apply (for example, ‘Deeming’ rules are used to work out income from your financial assets), so read the full criteria for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

How do I get my seniors health care card?

So, you’re of Age Pension age, meet the other criteria and are ready to apply for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. The application process for this card all happens through myGov, the Australian Government’s online portal. Before you apply, you’ll need to create your own personal myGov account if you don’t already have one, and link it to your Centrelink account. If you’re starting from scratch, ensure you have your own email address and set aside some quiet time to work through the process – you can find the full guide on the Services Australia website.

If the Pensioner Concession Card is more suitable to your circumstances you won’t need to apply – if you’re eligible you’ll receive your Pensioner Concession Card automatically. Your card is valid for two years and as long as you’re eligible, you’ll receive a new card approximately 4 to 6 weeks prior to the expiration date of your current card.

How do I use my card?

To use your Commonwealth Seniors Health Card or Pensioner Concession Card, simply show the card to your pharmacist, GP or health provider at the time of your appointment and ask about concessions and discounts.

Prefer to go digital so you don’t leave your card at home? Learn how to access your digital card with instructions on the Services Australia website.

Do seniors health care cards differ between states and territories?

Australian Government concession cards offer nationwide benefits like cheaper prescription medicine and potentially bulk-billed GP visits. However, depending on your state or territory, you might be eligible for additional discounts on public transport, council rates and utilities like your electricity and gas bill, and entertainment costs like admission to sporting venues. These concessions vary from state to state, so you should always check with your state or territory’s government about concessions or discounts you can get for goods or services.

Find out more about seniors concessions in each state and territory: 

Do I still need private health insurance?

Seniors health care cards don't cover everything so it’s wise to for seniors to have health cover for that’s appropriate for your health and lifestyle needs. 

Finding the right health cover can give you added perks like access to health management programs for eligible nib members, prescriptions delivered to your door, access to no-gap and known-gap networks (including for hip and knee replacements), and the option of some health care at home, as well as a range of free health and wellbeing tools to keep you feeling your best.

1Income test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card is reviewed on 20 September each year in line with the Consumer Price Index. As of 20 September 2023, you must earn less than the following: $95,400 a year if you’re single; $152,640 a year for couples; $190,800 a year for couples separated by illness, respite care or prison. Add $639.60 for each child in your care. See more information on Services Australia.