Australian Government announces changes to dispensing rules, improved savings for people taking multiple medications.
There are over six million Australians living with chronic illness who currently need to take multiple medications. They currently need to visit their pharmacy at least once a month, per medication, to have each prescription filled. These people, including many people with HIV (PHIV), currently pay at least one co-payment per prescription per month.
From September 2023 new Pharmaceutical Benefits System (PBS) prescribing rules will offer improved access to certain medications at reduced cost. These changes will apply to over 350 medications currently subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Eligible people will be able to collect two months’ supply of each approved medication for the cost of only one co-payment, effectively doubling the amount of medication people can collect each time they go to their pharmacy, whilst halving the cost.
People living with diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, Crohn’s disease and hypertension will be among the first to benefit from these changes. People who pay the full dispensing fee (General Patients) could save up to $180 a year per medication, and concessions card holders could save $43.80 per medication each year.
Also, people may need to see their doctors less often, and their doctor may be able to write a prescription that lasts for twelve months, before they need to see their doctor for another prescription. Eligibility will depend on whether the medication is included in this scheme, and if their doctor agrees to prescribe medication accordingly.
Doctors may also need to take into consideration other factors, including whether someone is stable on their medication and does not need regular health monitoring. There could be other factors to consider, depending on the individual. People should speak with their doctors for clarification.
Of the over three hundred medications currently approved for inclusion in this scheme, a little over one hundred will be available in September of this year. A further one hundred will be available in March 2024 and the rest will be available in September of 2024.
The changes will not come into effect until September, so people have plenty of time to speak with their doctor to see if they can take advantage of these changes. Here is a link to list of the PBS listed medications currently approved for two months’ supply with one co-payment. It is not yet clear which medications will be among the first one hundred medications eligible for two months’ supply.
Also, In January of this year the Federal Government reduced the maximum co-payment for a single prescription for general patients (no concessions) from $42.50 to $30. This is the largest reduction in the price of a co-payment in seventy (70) years. These cost cutting measures promise to save money and time for many Australians living with HIV.