Community Services Card
The Community Services Card entitles the holder to:
- higher subsidies for after-hours and out-of-town general practitioners’ (doctors’) fees than are otherwise available
- subsidised prescriptions for cardholders who do not belong to a PHO (primary health organisation)
- subsidised access to some other health services provided by public hospitals
- access to a number of other health services.
To receive a Community Services Card, a person must be receiving a low to middle income.
This may be from:
- an income tested benefit
- New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran’s Pension, a private or overseas pension
- Student Allowance, or
- employment, a business or investments.
Cardholders must also be:
- aged 18 or over (with exceptions for some 16–17 year olds)
– permanent legal residents of New Zealand and normally live here, or
– holders of, or applicants for, either refugee status or protected person status.
Some people receive a card automatically, while others need to apply
Community Services Cards are automatically issued to people receiving income-tested financial assistance.
Applications for a Community Services Card (to complete income tests for a card) are required from:
- people who are working
- people receiving New Zealand Superannuation.
Services from doctors
Cardholders can receive treatment and prescriptions at reduced costs by using the card.
Doesn’t everyone have low-cost access through their own doctor without a card?
Since 1 July 2007, everyone enrolled with a primary health organisation (PHO) can receive low-cost or reduced-cost services from their own PHO without using a card.
People use a Community Services Card when they:
- need treatment away from home
- need access to urgent medical care from an accident and medical centre or other after-hours service provider
- are new patients enrolled with primary health care providers, including those patients changing from one PHO to another.
Without a card, these patients would be treated as casual patients and charged higher fees for services.
Other services are targeted to cardholders. These include:
- family planning – cardholders aged 22 or over pay a reduced fee for a general consultation
- travel assistance for specialist appointments – cardholder status is considered in conjunction with travel distance and age to qualify for the Ministry of Health’s National Travel Assistance Scheme
- oral health – cardholders get free or reduced-cost emergency dental services for the relief of pain and infection (for many low-income people this is their only access to dental care)
- home help – district health boards (DHBs) and MSD use the card to get access to home help for people following needs assessments by needs assessment and service co-ordination agencies
- spectacle subsidy for children – the Ministry of Health pays up to an annual maximum amount towards the price of spectacles and eye examinations for children 15 years and under covered by a Community Services Card
- other health services are targeted to cardholders by individual DHBs – these services include post-hospital discharge home support
- home insulation – government agencies target households that include one or more cardholders for the provision of retrofitted insulation in their houses
- travel assistance for pregnancy termination – Work and Income provides travel assistance to cardholders referred by their primary health care providers for the termination of a pregnancy.
Some local councils and private organisations also offer discounts to Community Services Card holders.
The number of cards on issue decreased between 2011 and 2012
This decrease (see table CS.1) largely reflected a reduction in the number of benefit recipients and Working for Families Tax Credit recipients holding cards.
Of the people holding Community Services Cards at June 2012 (see table CS.1):
- 43% were receiving a main benefit
- 27% were receiving New Zealand Superannuation
- 15% were receiving Working for Families Tax Credits.
table CS.1: Categories of clients holding a Community Services Card
|Category of client ||Community Services Cards on issue1,2 |
|2008 ||2009 ||2010 ||2011 ||2012 |
|Low-income earners and students not receiving a Student Allowance3 ||45,080 ||35,526 ||31,236 ||26,128 ||23,159 |
|Family Support/Family Tax Credit recipients4 ||189,533 ||189,914 ||180,592 ||164,366 ||150,389 |
|Veteran’s Pension recipients ||7,869 ||10,041 ||9,924 ||9,588 ||8,944 |
|Student Allowance recipients3 ||36,506 ||46,756 ||66,445 ||80,898 ||81,606 |
|Main benefit recipients5 ||359,238 ||411,402 ||442,498 ||434,972 ||421,772 |
|New Zealand Superannuation recipients6 ||288,438 ||272,920 ||266,605 ||262,851 ||265,872 |
|Residential Care Subsidy recipients ||19,062 ||25,082 ||24,899 ||24,278 ||25,231 |
|Working families not receiving any of the above assistance ||12,642 ||13,188 ||13,836 ||13,254 ||13,447 |
|Total ||958,368 ||1,004,829 ||1,036,035 ||1,016,335 ||990,420 |
- The number of Community Services Cards on issue at the end of June. Cards are issued to adults in family units and to children receiving a Child Disability Allowance. A family unit can be a single person or a couple and their dependent children, if any. A card can be used until the expiry date even if the client’s circumstances change.
- The number of Community Services Cards on issue has been revised owing to improvements in statistics. The table now includes cards issued to children receiving a Child Disability Allowance and unexpired cards being used following changes in clients’ circumstances.
- Since June 2003, most students receiving a Student Allowance have had a card automatically issued. Students not entitled to a Student Allowance must apply as low-income earners.
- ‘Family Tax Credit’ includes both Group 1 (unabated) and Group 2 (abated) recipients who have been subsidised at Group 1 levels since July 1993. This assistance was known as Family Support until 2005.
- ‘Main benefit recipients’ includes students receiving an Unemployment Benefit – Student Hardship or an Emergency Benefit, and includes children receiving a Disability Allowance who have their own card.
- Because of the income testing of Community Services Cards, not all recipients of New Zealand Superannuation are eligible to receive a card.