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Health and social services access card

What is the access card?

The health and social services access card uses smart card technology to improve the access to-and delivery of-health and social services benefits for Australians. It replaces 17 health and social services cards, including the Medicare card, health care cards and veteran cards.

The Government will continue to consult with all interested groups to ensure that the implementation of the access card meets the needs and expectations of all Australians, particularly the elderly, ill and those in remote communities.

What's on it?

The access card will have limited cardholder information on it:

Personal information such as address, date of birth, concession status and details of any children or other dependants will be stored in the card's chip. This information will only be accessible by the cardholder and other authorised people.

If the cardholder chooses, they could also use the card to store information such as emergency contact details, allergies, health alerts, chronic illnesses, immunisation information or organ donor status.

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When will I get one?

The access card will be phased in over a two year registration period beginning in 2008. From early 2010, people will only be able to obtain government health and social services benefits if they have an access card.

How will the access card make life easier?

The access card will:

What about my privacy?

Information held on the access card will be subject to strict protections and will only be accessible by authorised people. We will continue to work with the Federal Privacy Commissioner and consult with stakeholders in developing the access card.

What are the security safeguards?

Security safeguards include encryption and other security measures to ensure that data on the card cannot be accessed or changed by anyone not authorised to do so. The information on the card will be stored separately from the agencies. Having a photo on the card will ensure it cannot be used by someone else, including when it is lost or stolen.

What is the cost?

The cost for the access card is yet to be finalised but it is expected that it will be around $1billion over four years. Savings are estimated to be up to $3 billion over ten years.

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