Discounted PBS prescriptions start
1 January 2016 marks the start of competition reforms by which pharmacists are able to discount the cost of a prescription subsidised through the Government’s PBS by up to $1.
Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced today consumers could now access discounts of up to $1 on every Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme-subsidised script they purchased throughout the year.
Pensioners and other concession card holders would particularly benefit, given 80 per cent of PBS scripts were concessional, and could see their co-payment potentially fall from $6.20 to $5.20.
Ms Ley said she had been buoyed by the significant number and variety of pharmacy chains – not just large-scale discounters – who had already announced they would offer patients some form of discount and encouraged interested consumers to shop around for the best deal.
If you are a concession card holder who fills 40 PBS-subsidised scripts in a year, then you have the opportunity to save as much as $40. If you fill 70 scripts, then you can save $70. You just have to go to a chemist shop that offers the full $1 discount.
Ms Ley said, “For some pharmacies, this discount is an opportunity for them to explore a new market to compete on price.
"For others, they may choose not to discount and focus on competing on a well-rounded local pharmacy experience for their regular patients that offers additional high-quality primary care services."
PBS safety net
Consumers should also be aware that the PBS safety net threshold was a dollar amount – $372 for a concessional patient and $1475.70 for a general patient – not a set number of scripts.
This means it does not matter if a patient takes 60 or 70 scripts to reach safety net protections, they would still pay the same amount before they reached the eligibility thresholds.
“The $1 discount will not impact a patient’s access to protections,” Ms Ley said.
“If a patient pays less for their prescriptions thanks to this discount and they don’t reach their safety net as a result, that’s a positive because it means they are spending less money overall on prescription medicines.”
Drugs taken off PBS
Ms Ley said 1 January also marked reforms to address inconsistencies in the PBS that saw some patients paying two-to-three times more for common over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol or aspirin if they bought them through a prescription rather-than straight off-the-shelf.
“In the meantime, I encourage consumers to shop around and ask their pharmacist about stocking other alternative or generic ‘osteo’ brands that contains the exact same 665mg slow-release paracetamol formula, with over 30 alternatives currently registered in Australia,” she said.
The PBS co-payment for concession card holders is indexed on 1 January of each year and is $6.20 for concession card holders and $38.30 for general patients.
1 January 2016.