Retirees to lose Health Care cards

HUNDREDS of North Coast seniors will face a sixfold increase in prescription medicine costs, lose hundreds of dollars in bonuses and miss out on concessions as the government moves to strip them of their Seniors Health Care cards.

From July, the Federal Government will take into account superannuation income and income salary sacrificed to superannuation when deciding eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, a measure that will leave many self-funded retirees with massive increases in healthcare bills.

National Seniors Coffs Harbour president Stella Tegg said the main benefit of the card was subsidised medication.

“A change in prescription costs could be a really big problem,” Ms Tegg said.

“I know people who have to take 10 different prescriptions, so any changes would be a huge burden to carry.”

Nationals senator Fiona Nash said the move will strip the card from 500 North Coast retirees.

“That is 500 locals who will face a sixfold increase in their prescription costs, lose their $500 utilities allowance, $138 telephone allowance, and $500 seniors' bonus payment, as well as miss out on concessions provided by the State Government, bulk billing doctors and some private companies,” Ms Nash said.

“In the first year alone, seniors will have to pay the full $32.90 rate, rather than the concession rate of $5.30, on almost one million prescriptions.”

Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the measure was 'mean-spirited', since access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme safety net starts at $1141 for non-card holders, while those with cards can access the scheme after spending only $290.

“The 2000 senior health card holders in the area are already doing it tough enough,” he said.

“When times were good, they prudently set aside some of their income for retirement, rather than spend it, and now they are being penalised for their prudence.”

  • ARE you a retiree affected by this move? Contact us on 6650 2951.

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