Since its inception in 1994, the Commonwealth Health Card (CSHC) has undergone several modifications. With a few qualifications, such as age, money, and residency, the coveted CSHC has experienced a variety of prerequisites throughout the years.
Unsurprisingly, there are a few obstacles to obtaining a CSHC, given the card’s perks, including cheaper medication, bulk-billed medical appointments, and savings on utilities such as electricity, gas, and water.
As part of the recent 2022 Federal Election Policy statements, the ALP has further altered qualifying requirements, tipping the scale favouring older Australians on low incomes. So, let’s dive in and investigate the CSHC’s tropes and the implications of these new criteria for older Australians.
What is the CSHC?
The CSHC was first implemented to reduce Australia’s ageing population’s stress and financial strain. It primarily functions as a discount card for the bearer, granting discounts in areas such as:
- Cheaper prescription medicines: Government subsided medicines listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
- Bulk-billed doctor visits
- Access to Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) Concessional Benefit: A larger Medicare refund of 80% for out-of-hospital costs exceeding $697.
- Additional concessions: Depending on your location, you may be eligible for electricity, gas, property, and water bill savings. Additionally, concessions may be applied to health care and public transportation expenses.
Changes and eligibility
Like several other areas of concessions and benefits, eligibility is a significant component of the application process. A few requirements must be met before applying for the card.
Note that anybody receiving an Aged Pension is not eligible for the card as they will receive the pension concession card instead, criteria met, of course. So, what are the requirements? Let’s explore them:
- Age: Currently, it is at 66 years and 6 months, but it is expected to rise to 67 on 1 July 2023.
- Not be eligible for any payment from Services Australia or the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA): As previously indicated, you cannot be receiving the Age or DVA pension.
- Reside in Australia and satisfy residency requirements: When applying for the CSHC, you must be an Australian citizen residing in the nation or have a permanent visa. In addition, when using the card, you must also satisfy the aforementioned standards.
So, what is the major change, you may be asking? Well, it’s substantial enough that both major parties promised to do it ahead of the election this year. The CSHC is unusual in that there is no assets test, there is, however, an income test.
The income test considers your adjusted taxable income (ATI) and a deemed income from your superannuation account based income stream.
But from 1 July 2022, the newly elected government has vowed to raise the income qualifying thresholds for the CSHC from $57,761 to $90,000 for Singles and $92,416 to $144,000 for couples. Thus, allowing an estimated 50,000 more Australians to be able to apply for the highly sought-after card.
Should you require further information about this article or help in determining your CSHC eligibility. Please contact your local Accru office.