- meet an income test
Eligibility & payment rates
Eligibility for Low Income Health Care Card
You may be eligible for a Low Income Health Care Card if you are on a low income and meet the Low Income Health Care Card income test.
The card is not subject to an assets test.
Students and Australian Apprentices
If you are a student or Australian Apprentice and receive Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY or Austudy, you will not automatically receive a Health Care Card but may still qualify for a Low Income Health Care Card. Call 132 490 to claim a Low Income Health Care Card.
Shared care arrangements
If you have a Low Income Health Care Card and you share the care of a child, your child’s name will be listed on your Low Income Health Care Card if the amount of shared care is at least 14% of the time, which is 2 or more nights per fortnight.
Concessions and discounts for Low Income Health Care Card
A Low Income Health Care Card entitles you to:
- cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
You may also be entitled to:
- concessions offered by private companies, and
- state and territory government and local council concessions, such as:
- energy and electricity bills
- health-care costs, including ambulance and dental and eye care
- public-transport costs
- educational fees, and
- water rates
Check with your state or territory government to find out what concessions are available to you. Concessional entitlements may vary between states and territories.
When using services covered by Medicare, you will need to present your Medicare Card with your Low Income Health Care Card.
Income test for Low Income Health Care Card
Your Low Income Health Care Card is assessed on gross income for the 8 week period ending on the day you lodge your claim.
Residence requirements for the Low Income Health Care Card
To be eligible for a Low Income Health Care Card you must satisfy residence requirements.
You must be living in Australia and:
- have Australian citizenship
- hold a permanent visa
- hold a special category visa, or
- hold a partner provisional visa subclass 309 or 820, an interdependency visa subclass 310 or 826, or a temporary protection visa
You must also:
- be physically present in Australia on the day you lodge your claim, and
- continue to meet the residence requirements for as long as you hold this card
Newly arrived residents generally have a 104 week waiting period, with some exemptions.
Other benefits while receiving a Low Income Health Care Card
If you qualify for a Low Income Health Care Card, you may be entitled to other payments and services such as:
Check if you are eligible for this payment before you start your claim.
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- begin your claim
- get your supporting documentation
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Managing your card
Digital concession cards
If you already have a Low Income Health Care Card, you can also access a digital image of your card from your Digital Wallet on your Centrelink Express Plus mobile app. The Digital Wallet allows you to present your Low Income Health Care Card using your smart device.
To access the Digital Wallet, eligible customers need to download the latest version of the Centrelink Express Plus Mobile app.
Access your digital Low Income Health Care Card by logging on to your app and selecting Digital Wallet from the side menu or simply rotating your smart device on its side. Your card will:
- drop down from the top of the screen
- swipe vertically to show the front and the back of the card, and
- shimmer slightly
If you have more than 1 concession card, you can swipe horizontally to access the card you need.
The Digital Wallet provides real time concession entitlement. If your Low Income Health Care Card is no longer active, EXPIRED will appear across the card and will be displayed for 28 days before it’s no longer available through your app. This will give you time to reapply if necessary.
There may be circumstances where you should continue to use your physical Low Income Health Care Card. If your Digital Wallet is not accepted by a concession provider, please contact us with their details by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can do most of your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service. There are options using mobile apps, online services or phone self service.
Change of circumstances while receiving the Low Income Health Care Card
You need to tell us if your circumstances change when you are receiving a Low Income Health Care Card. For example, if:
- your personal circumstances change
- you change your address
- your income changes
- you do not have to lodge a tax return
- your care arrangements change
- your work or study load changes, or
- you leave Australia
If you do not tell us about the changes within 14 days, your entitlement may be affected.
If you deliberately do not tell us about changes, you could be charged with fraud.
Renewing a Low Income Health Care Card
Your Low Income Health Care Card needs to be renewed every 6 months. You will need to reapply to renew your card and meet the income test. You can renew your Low Income Health Care Card using your Centrelink account online or by using the form that will be sent to you.
If you renew your card online, your current Centrelink information will automatically be displayed, so you only need to update any information that has changed. You will need to Register for an online account at a level 2 access or higher to be able to renew your card online.
Lost or stolen card
Lost or stolen cards can be replaced. A replacement card will be sent to you by mail. It cannot be issued over the counter at a service centre however you can request an interim card at a service centre if you need one before your card arrives in the mail. You can request a replacement card:
- using your online account
- using phone self service
- visiting your nearest service centre or
- by calling us on 132 490
Low Income Health Care Card, Ex-Carer Allowance (Child) Health Care Card and Foster Child Health Care Card while travelling outside Australia
If you leave Australia to live in another country your concession card will be cancelled when you leave.
If you leave Australia temporarily, your concession card will remain current for up to 6 weeks. After 6 weeks your concession card will be cancelled and you will need to reapply once you return to Australia.
Advising us of your travel outside Australia
You do not need to tell us if you are leaving Australia. We will be advised automatically by Australia's immigration department when you leave Australia and when you return.
Someone to deal with us on your behalf
If you would prefer to have someone else handle your business with us, you can authorise a person or an organisation to deal with us on your behalf.
Information you need to know about your claim for a Low Income Health Care Card
Concession and health care cards
Read more about our concession and health care card.
Select the options that describe your circumstances then explore a suggested list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
Select your state and topics of interest to find links to government and community organisation support.