Last Updated on 19 June 2020

Low Income Health Care Card Threshold: How do I qualify?


Low Income Health Care Card
Key Points
  • The Low Income Health Care Card helps people with lower incomes pay for a range of health-related costs.
  • To qualify for the Low Income Health Care Card, applicants must meet specific income and residency requirements.
  • After receiving the card, recipients must remain within the set income thresholds and must continue to meet residency requirements for the card to remain valid.

As the benefits of private health insurance become more abundant and awareness of those benefits increases, more and more Australians are opting to invest in various types of private health cover. Currently, more than half of the population is covered by private health insurance to some degree.

However, while some people may see the value in private health insurance, they might feel premiums are simply unaffordable, given hospital cover in Australia may cost well over $100 a month for a family.

And experts believe that those numbers will continue to increase. In fact, in 2018 alone health insurance premiums have risen by around $150 for most families – a hike that is twice as much as the rise in wages.

While the costs may seem daunting, there are options for families that may be having issues covering the cost of private health insurance. One such option may be the Low Income Health Care Card.

What is the Low Income Health Care Card?

The Low Income Health Care Card is a concession card that is issued by the Department of Human Services. The card is used to get cheaper health care. Its carriers are also eligible for other health-related discounts and subsidies. Generally, the Low Income Health Care Card is designated for those who meet specific income criteria and restraints.

Low Income Health Care Card Eligibility

There are two basic eligibility sets that you must meet to qualify for the Low Income Health Care Card. They are: Income Test Limits and Residence Rules.

Income Test Limits

To be eligible, you must meet the standards of the income test.

The test is very straightforward. The Department of Human Services will assess your gross income for the 8 weeks prior to you submitting your card application/claim to determine your average weekly income and total income for that period.

The limits for the income test depend on your family status. See the chart below for more information.

The Department of Human Services will assess several different potential income streams in determining your 8-week income. Those income streams are as follows:

  • Employment income
  • Wages
  • Salary
  • Self-employment Income
  • Employer-provided fringe benefits
  • Rental income
  • Reportable super contributions
  • Centrelink pensions and benefits
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs payments
  • Financial investment income
  • Foreign income
  • Insurance compensation
  • New Enterprise Incentive Scheme
  • Paid Parental Leave payments
  • Other lump sum payments

Use this calculator to get an idea of whether or not your income will qualify for the Low Income Health Care Card.

Residence Rules

To be eligible for the Low Income Health Care Card, you must meet several residency requirements.

They are as follows:

  • Must be in Australia on the day you apply
  • Must be living in Australia
  • Must possess one of the following for at least 104 weeks before receiving the card:
  • Citizenship
  • Permanent Visa
  • Partner Provisional visa subclass
  • Temporary Protection visa

There are exemptions from the 104-week residency requirement. If you meet one of the following criteria, you will likely be eligible for an exemption:

  • Are an Australian citizen
  • Arrived in Australia as a refugee
  • Hold one of the following visa sub-classes:
  • Subclass 852 – referred stay
  • Subclass 104 – preferential family
  • Subclass 116 – carer
  • Subclass 806 – family
  • Subclass 836 – carer
  • Subclass 060 – bridging visa F
  • Subclass 070 – bridging
  • Subclass 449 – humanitarian stay
  • Subclass 785 – temporary protection
  • Subclass 786 – temporary
  • Subclass 790 – safe haven enterprise
  • You have a change of circumstance and are experiencing hardships beyond your control

Claiming for a Low Income Health Care Card

Applying for a Low Income Health Care Card is simple. You can apply online or via post.

Before applying, you should:

  • Make sure you are eligible
  • Read the resource on this page
  • Set up a Centrelink account
  • Be prepared to confirm your identity
Online

To register online, fill out the required documents through myGov.

Post

If you cannot access the forms through myGov, you can print them here.

You can also pick up the necessary forms from a service centre near you.

Or, you can call 132 490 and a representative will have the forms mailed to your home.

After completing the forms, you can physically bring them to your local service centre or mail them to:

Centrelink
Reply Paid 7800
Canberra BC ACT 2610

Using and Renewing Your Card

You will receive your card in the mail after it is approved.

As long as you maintain eligibility, Centrelink will send you a renewal card before your Low Income Health Care Card expires. To renew, you must re-qualify based on the income and residency requirements.

If your income or residency circumstances change while you are in possession of the Low Income Health Care Card, you must inform Centrelink immediately.

People also ask

What is a Centrelink Health Care Card?

The Centrelink Health Care Card is a concession card that allows the holders to receive cheaper medical services and prescription medications. It’s designed to give low-income Australians access to subsidised Medicare benefits.

Eligible individuals will receive the health care card automatically, so there is no need to fill out a Low Income Healthcare card form. There is also no Low Income Healthcare card application form online to worry about, either.

The same goes for card renewal. You will receive your card in the mail if you remain eligible from year to year.

You’ll be able to automatically receive the Health Care Card if you’re receiving the maximum rate of the Family Tax Benefit Part A along with a few other benefits. You’ll also get a card for one year if you receive any of the following payments:

  • ABSTUDY living allowance
  • Austudy
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Partner Allowance
  • Parenting Payment partnered
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Special Benefit
  • Widow Allowance
  • Youth Allowance

The same applies if you get the Carer Allowance benefit for those care for a child under the age of 16. This card will be for any child healthcare services they need to receive.

If you receive a Sickness Allowance, then you will be able to receive a valid card for the term limit – up to 13 weeks.

Children in your care will automatically share your Health Care Card. You must care for the child for a specified amount of time, which will determine the percentage of the card’s benefits they’ll receive.

There are several different concession cards available. You might qualify for another low-income benefit if you don’t qualify for the Centrelink Health Care Card.

What is the low income supplement?

There are quite a few government programs outside of the Low Income Health Care Card that assist low-income households in paying their bills. One of them is the Low Income Supplement.

This program offers an annual payment of $300 to assist with household expenses. This benefit comes in two different forms: the Low Income Family Supplement and the Single Income Family Supplement.

Here are the requirements that you need to meet to receive the Low Income Supplement:

The Single Income Family Supplement (SIFS) requirements are a bit different. You need to fit all of the following criteria:

  • Were eligible on 30 June 2017 and have been eligible since
  • Have a single main income earner in the family
  • Have a taxable income between $68,000 and $150,000
  • Receive the Family Tax Benefit for one or more children.

If there is a second earner in your family, their taxable income must be less than $18,000 per year to remain eligible for the Single Income Family Supplement. Eligibility must have also remained unchanged since 2017. Changes that will affect your supplement eligibility include:

  • If you no longer care for your eligible child
  • If you and your child leave Australia for more than 6 weeks at a time
  • If your income is too high
  • If you don’t file a tax return on time
  • If you don’t submit a claim on time
  • If you care for your child less than 35% of the time.

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