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Last Updated on 7 October 2019

Low Income Health Care Card: How to Qualify and Make a Claim

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

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


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:

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.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication

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