What is the PBS?

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) provides timely, reliable and affordable access to necessary medicines for Australians. Under the PBS, the government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions.

Who is eligible for the PBS?

The Scheme is available to all Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card.

How much will I pay for PBS medicines?

This is referred to as the patient co-payment and will vary depending on your entitlement. These are described in more detail below. Many PBS medicines cost significantly more than the co-payment amount. The government pays the difference between what you pay and what the medication costs.

So what are the different entitlements?

Medicare PBS

  • You hold a valid Medicare card
  • No pension, health care card, DVA health card or safety net card held
  • The medicine is listed as a subsidised medicine by Medicare Australia
  • The amount you pay will contribute towards your medicines safety net

Concession

  • You hold a valid Medicare card
  • You hold a valid pension, health care card, DVA health card or safety net concession card
  • The medicine is listed as a subsidised medicine by Medicare Australia
  • The amount you pay will contribute towards your medicines safety net

Safety Net

  • You hold a valid Medicare card
  • You hold a valid safety net entitlement card
  • The medicine is listed as a subsidised medicine by Medicare Australia
  • The amount you pay will contribute towards your medicines safety net

Private

  • You have a valid and legal Australian prescription
  • The medicine is not listed as a PBS subsidised medicine by Medicare Australia; and/or
  • You do not hold an Australian Medicare card
  • The amount you pay for private prescriptions will not contribute towards your medicines safety net

 

Are generic medicines just as good as the original brand?

In short, yes. Generic medicines are rigorously tested to prove they have the same effect on the body as the original brand of medicine. Generic medicines contain the same active ingredient in the same strength as the original brand of medicine. In many cases, generic medicines will be cheaper than the original brand. This price saving can add up quite quickly over time so it is definitely worth considering a generic brand if it’s available.