As you are probably aware, health care can be quite expensive, especially if you have to take any medications on a regular basis. However, the Australian government has programs in place to help you to offset some of those health care costs. One of those programs is the Australian Health Care Card. The Australian Health Care Card is a benefits card that may entitle you to discounts on health care, medications, and other services.
Qualifying for a Health Care Card
In some cases, you may automatically receive a Health Care Card. In order for that to happen, you must already be receiving one of the following allowances and benefits:
- Youth Allowance as a Job Seeker
- Sickness, Mobility, Carer, Widow, Newstart, or Partner Allowances
- Carer or Partnered Parenting Payment
- The Maximum Rate of Part A Family Tax Benefit
- Special Benefit
If you do not receive any of those allowances and benefits, you may still qualify for a Health Care Card, but you will have to actually apply for the card. You will not just automatically receive it. Circumstances that may require you to apply for it include:
- You Are a Foster Parent Applying for a Card in the Child’s Name
- You Are a Disabled Student Whose Carer No Longer Collects Carer’s Allowance
- You Have a Low Income
- You Have Joint or Temporary Custody of Your Child or Children
Differences in Health Care Card Benefits
It’s important to note that, while any of the above scenarios may entitle you or your child to a Health Care Card, not all Health Care Cards are the same. You will be entitled to different benefits with your Health Care Card based on your own personal situation. Those benefits will be outlined for you when your application is accepted or your Health Care Card is automatically issued to you. Depending on your circumstances, benefits offered by the country through your Health Care Card may include:
- Cheaper Medications
- Medicare Safety Net medical expense refunds
- Australian Post Discounts
- Office of Hearing Services Discounts
Your State or Territory may also offer you extra benefits, if you have a Health Care Card. Some of those benefits may include:
- Eye and Dental Care Discounts
- Ambulance Ride Discounts
- Reduced Rates for Public Transportation
- Assistance with Energy Bill Payments
Some Australian doctors will also offer bulk billing for patients with Health Care Cards. However, individual doctors create their own policies about that.
How to Make a Claim
If your circumstances require you to make a claim in order to qualify for an Australian Health Care Card, you can do that a number of ways. First, you could print, fill out, and mail in the proper Health Care Card claim form. If you are applying for a Low Income Health Care Card, you must submit a form by mail. You can download the claim form by visiting http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/forms/ss050.
Your second option is to fill out and submit the claim form for your Health Care Card directly online. You can do that if you are applying for an Ex-Carer Allowance (child) Health Care Card or a Foster Child Health Care Card. To do so, simply visit http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/online-services/register, register for a myGov account, and then follow the steps to make your claim.
If you still aren’t sure which form you need or which way you need to submit it, you can visit or call your closest Department of Human Services (DHS) Service Centre for help. You can search for your closest DHS Service Centre at http://humanservices.findnearest.com.au/
Keeping Your Information Updated
When you place a claim for a Health Care Card of any kind, you will be asked for certain information. That information will range from basics, such as your name and address, to information about your income, employment situation, and assets. So, you should be sure to have all of that information in front of you and ready to go before you start the claim process.
Even after you have made a claim for or received a Health Care Card, you must keep your information updated. It is up to you to inform the DHS of any major changes to your account. Some of those changes may include:
- Changing Your Address or Telephone Number
- Changing Your Employment Status or Income
- Changing Your Last Name
- Changing Other Benefits That You Collect or Programs Giving You Assistance
For more information about qualifying for, obtaining, or replacing a Health Care Card, visit http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/health-care-card.