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‘My battle for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card’

I read with interest the other day the changes to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. It would appear that many Australians are now eligible for this card and the associated benefits as the income limits have been raised for us retired folk.

Excellent I thought. I googled how to apply and then tore my hair out in total frustration. It would appear that before I had to start this application, I had to have a Centrelink number. Did I have one? Where would I find it? A bit like looking for my lost marbles as it turned out.

So, in despair and with dire reluctance, I decided to ring Centrelink. One-and-a-half hours later, a kind operator answered the phone, which was just as well as my sanity was nearly eroded.

Read: Are you eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card?

She efficiently found my unique number, one that I had evidently used 30 years ago (who knew?) and then kindly guided me to the myGov log in page on my computer. I evidently had to link my myGov to Centrelink by putting in this unique number.

Easy peasy, so far. But then we came unstuck. Another number she gave me bounced back several times and rudely implied that I didn’t know what I was doing!

After repeated pleas and explanations and comments about the difficulty of using technology and trying to apply for the healthcare card, the kind and exasperated operator offered me an appointment at a Centrelink office for help with a real live person. Joy.

I duly arrived at the office the following week, with my printed copies of require information. I walked up to the desk when my name was called, sat down and began to explain my dilemma – you know, site too hard to follow, my incompetence, etc etc, and could she help me please? Oh no, I am just here to be your digital coach, I can’t do the application for you! (Digital coach? What the heck? That sounded vaguely rude.)

Read: Age Pension change could make it easier to pick up work

I was then led to a computer and had orders barked at me. But the instructions were fast, there was no way I could ever repeat them and I was decidedly made to feel stupid. My mobile phone had to be used to photograph and upload my tax statement. What if I didn’t own a smartphone?

The next hurdle came as I presented the 28 pages of superannuation information. My ‘digital coach’ huffed and puffed and rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed that she had to actually do some work for me, to scan and upload this herself. I kept my cool, smiled, relied on my age and again apologised profusely for my lack of digital skills. All the while I was thinking- f*** I pay taxes still, my money helps pay your wage and I am entitled to some level of service and help, not rudeness.

I then wondered about all those urban myths about dole bludgers rorting the system. Good luck to them if they can even access the system, let alone rort it. Here I am with two degrees and some computer skills and still baffled by the complexities of just one meagre application.

The obvious answer to all of these claims and to the endless applications for ‘handouts’ from governments is to scrap the lot and give every person over 18 years a universal basic income. No more Centrelink. No questions asked, no more forms to fill in, no more alleged rorting of the system. A basic amount of money that replaces any other handouts. Then it will be up to the individual to either manage on that amount or supplement it with work of their choosing.

Am I dreaming?

PS: In late news just to hand, Dianne confirms she has been successful and she now has a CSHC.

Is a universal basic income the sensible way to proceed? Did you have trouble applying for your CSHC? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Friday Forum is your chance to write on any topic that stirs you. Simply send your contribution to [email protected]. Published authors will receive a $20 Prezzee digital gift card that can be spent at more than 120 retail outlets.

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