News

Pharmacists concerned over PBS changes

PHARMACISTS are warning that under changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, customers who purchase PBS subsidised prescriptions will have to fill more scripts before reaching the safety net.

From January 1 pharmacists have the ability to reduce the cost of prescription medicine subsidised by the PBS by up to a dollar.

The change will mostly impact pensioners and other concessional card holders, with 80% of PBS scripts concessional.

For concession card holders, it would see their co-payment potentially fall from $6.20 to $5.20.

Ada & Flynn pharmacist Hugh Ada said the discount would mean customers who reach the safety net won't do so until later in the year, if at all.

"Customers will have to purchase more prescriptions to get them to the dollar value to be eligible for the safety net and free medication," he said.

Currently, pensioners and concession card holders who spend $372 on PBS-subsidised medicine reach the safety net threshold and are then entitled to free PBS-subsidised scripts.

Last year, it took 60 PBS-subsidised scripts to reach that threshold, however, with the discount it takes 72 to reach the same figure.

"Discounting the prescription is better for the customer in the short term, but in the long term they won't be on the safety net as early or as long, therefore will probably lose out in the year," Mr Ada said.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said the discount on PBS prescriptions was a win for consumers, who would still spend the same dollar amount to reach the eligibility threshold.

"If you are a concession card holder who fills 40 PBS-subsidised scripts in a year, they have have the opportunity to save as much as $40," she 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 medicine."

However Pharmacy Guild of Australia spokesman Greg Turnbull said the discount was actually a saving measure from the government

"By delaying patient access to the safety net, the government could save up to $373 million," he said.

"The cost of this discount is felt by the pharmacist, not the government.

"Concession card holders still have to spend the same amount to reach the threshold, but with each discount there could be a dollar less going towards that amount.

"We certainly think from our experience, customers who are used to reaching the safety net in August or September will still expect to reach it then."

Ms Ley said the reform was an important step towards competition in the industry.

"Endless reviews have called for consumers to have access to greater competition in this area and the ability to discount Government-subsidised PBS scripts is a sensible step in the right direction," she said.

Mr Turnbull said the cost of the potential price differences are contrary to what the PBS stands for, and customers in rural areas could lose out if their pharmacy was not able to pass on the savings.

"We don't think it's right that someone in Pitt St should pay a dollar less for their medicine than someone in Grafton," he said.

"It's a bad principle."

Topics:  pharmaceutical benefits scheme




Acquittal on five DV-related charges

Grafton CourthousePhoto Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Jury finds defendent not guilty after three day trial

Li Garden wins the popular vote

Danny and Tania Li, from Li Garden, who won the Daily Examiner poll for the best Chinese in Grafton.

Li Garden has been voted number one by the locals.

Opinion: To SRV or not to SRV

Craig Howe.

One option for making ends meet

Latest deals and offers

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

Troy Cassar-Daley announces extra concerts

TCD

Two concerts in Clarence Valley in 2017

Rachel Weisz understands celebrity gossip fascination

Actor Rachel Weisz

Weisz says mystery is good for an actor

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m