Medicare Smartcard

This Government project and APF campaign ran from 2004 until 2006. It was then abandoned and/or subsumed into the Government's 'Human Services Access card'/ 'SmartCard'/ 'ConsumerCard' project and APF's New national ID card campaign.

See also the related projects on the Human Services Card (2005-06), Australia Card Mark II and the Document Verification System


During 2004-06, a project was running that was intended to convert Medicare cards from magnetic-strip to smartcard technology.

The Minister also signalled the possibility that the Medicare card could then also work as a more general "government services card", for example for accessing social security benefits through Centrelink, or for storing or accessing a consolidated health record.

A Pilot was run in Tasmania. It was originally to be provided to 40,000 people. But few were interested, and only about 2,500 appear to have ever been issued. (A media report said "It is understood only 1 per cent of eligible Tasmanians expressed interest in registering for the card"). Moreover, some of those who tried to get one fell foul of what appear to have been substantially increased registration requirements.

No clear announcement appears ever to have been made, but it came to light in a Senate Estimates Committee hearing in May 2006 that the Pilot had been abandoned. The Government switched its focus to the national ID card (dubbed by Hockey the 'Human Services Access Card'), but without taking any account of the lessons that the abortive Pilot should have taught it.