The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia. Health care card (HCC) - description

Purpose of HCC

The main purpose of the HCC is to assist benefit recipients, low income earners and selected other groups (e.g. foster children and ex-CA (child) care receivers) with certain health costs, by allowing access to specific services at a concessional rate.

Automatic issue HCC

The HCC is issued automatically to people who receive:

  • certain social security benefits (i.e. JSP, SpB, YA, Austudy and ABSTUDY living allowance provided the recipient does not have a PCC), PPP, and farm household allowance, and
  • certain social security supplementary payments, or are in specific circumstances, such as those entitled to receive the maximum rate of FTB Part A by instalment, carers with income under the $250,000 CA income test threshold who are caring for children with certain illnesses or disabilities and receiving CA (child), or MOB recipients who do not already hold a PCC.

Extended qualification for automatic issue HCC

Once people move off income support, they must generally stop using their HCC. However, in some instances, certain social security recipients can retain their HCC for a short period after returning to work. This provision is designed to assist people to make the transition from income support to work. Eligible groups include:

  • long-term income support recipients receiving JSP, SpB, YA (job seeker) and PPS, and
  • JSP or YA (job seeker) single principal carers (1.1.P.412) who retain their PCC for (approximately) 12 weeks after returning to work, and may then receive a HCC for up to a further 14 weeks.

Claim required HCC

Foster children, low-income earners and ex-CA (child) care receivers can also obtain specific types of HCCs:

  • a foster child HCC is available, on application, to assist foster children and carers. The card can be claimed by the foster carer on behalf of the child. The card is issued only in the name of the foster child, and can only be used to obtain concessions on services utilised by the child. The foster child HCC is not means tested.
  • a LIC is available, on application, to people with incomes below certain levels. Once eligible, the qualifying income limits may be exceeded by up to 25 per cent before eligibility for the card is lost. The income test applies to average gross income for the 8 weeks immediately prior to applying for the card.
  • the ex-CA (child) HCC may be claimed by former care receivers who attracted a CA HCC only and those who entitled their carer to payment of CA. This is provided they had a CA HCC on the day before their 16th birthday. As long as they remain in full-time study, ex-CA (child) care receivers may be eligible for the ex-CA (child) HCC until their 26th birthday. No dependants can be listed on this card. The ex-CA (child) HCC will be issued for a 12 month period, subject to ongoing eligibility. Cardholders will need to reapply each year, providing confirmation of their student status.

Certain residence requirements must also be met to qualify for any type of HCC.

Act reference: SSAct section 1061ZK Qualification: general rules, section 1061ZM Qualification for HCC: employment-affected person, section 1061ZM(1BA) If the person: (a) was an employment-affected …, section 1061ZO Qualification, section 1061ZO(9) This section applies to a person on a day if …, section 1061ZK(3) This section applies to a disabled child …

Policy reference: SS Guide Qualification for HCC - automatic issue, LIC - assessment of income, Qualification for ex-CA (child) HCC for 16-25 year old students

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