Low Income Health Care Card
Gives low income earners access to cheaper prescription medicines, and various concessions from government and private organisations.
- meet an income test
Eligibility & payment rates
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.
There is no assets test for this card.
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. You may still qualify for a Low Income Health Care Card. Call the Students and trainees line to claim a Low Income Health Care Card.
Some dependent children are not eligible to claim their own Low Income Health Care Card.
If you are aged below 19, are supported by your parents or guardians and in secondary studies, you may not be eligible to claim your own Low Income Health Care Card.
If you have been granted a Centrelink payment you may qualify for 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 card. The amount of shared care needs to be at least 14% of the time, which is 2 or more nights per fortnight.
If we cancel your payment on 1 January 2017 because of the changes to the pension assets test, and you were age pension age or over, you will be automatically eligible for a:
- non-income tested Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, and
- non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card
If you are under age pension age on 1 January 2017, you are automatically eligible for a non-income tested Low Income Health Care Card. You can apply for the non-income tested Commonwealth Seniors Health Card when you reach age pension age. Read more about the changes to the pension assets test.
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.
Your Low Income Health Care Card is assessed on gross income for the 8 week period ending on the day you submit your claim.
To be eligible 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, or a Temporary Protection visa
You must also:
- be physically present in Australia on the day you submit 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.
Once you have read about eligibility the next steps are:
- find out what you need before you start your claim
- choose your claiming option
- provide supporting documents
- submit your claim
- we will assess your claim and let you know the outcome
Your Low Income Health Care Card needs to be renewed every 12 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 online account through myGov or by using the form 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.
Have your concession or health care card with you everywhere you take your phone.
Do your Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support business using self service options, including our Express Plus mobile apps, online accounts and phone self service.
Read more about using self service.
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, or
- your work or study load changes
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.
To remain eligible for a Low Income Health Care Card while you are outside Australia, you must continue to meet the qualification rules for this card.
If you want someone else to deal with us, you can authorise them to enquire, act or get payments for you.
Concession and health care cards can help you access cheaper health care services and medicines.
Select the options that describe your circumstances, then explore a list of possible Centrelink and Medicare payments and services online.
We’ve got advice and tools to help you with budgeting, borrowing and credit, and managing debt.
Read about how to manage your money.