Cost of living now costing our health
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia says new figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing Australians are going without prescription medication because of costs, reinforces the need to reduce the maximum general co-payment for PBS-listed medicines to $19.
The ABS data shows nearly 1.1 million Australians either delayed or didn’t get their required prescription medication because of the cost in the 2022-23 financial year.
This follows revelations that inflation will cause the maximum co-payment for non-concessional card holders to increase on January 1 by $1.60.
This will increase the cost of medicines from $30 to $31.60 for general patients, while the concessional co-payment will rise from $7.30 to $7.70.
Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s National President, Professor Trent Twomey said the aim of the Guild’s ‘Affordable Medicines Now’ Campaign has always been to reduce the maximum co-payment to $19 for Australian patients.
“Community Pharmacy won’t rest until the general patient co-payment is $19. This is one lever the government has at its disposal to help with the cost of living. The time to act is now.”
Professor Twomey said with inflation running at 5.4%, there has never been a more important time to bring down the cost of medicines.
“A reduction in the general patient co-payment to $19 will have an immediate, direct, and permanent reduction in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), structurally lowering inflation.” Professor Twomey said.
“With little to no second-round effect, the reduction will affect the health component of the CPI and most importantly deliver much needed and lasting cost of living relief to up to 19 million Australians and their families at a time they need it most.”
The Pharmacy Guild also pointed to statistics showing Australia compared poorly to other countries such as New Zealand, France, and Germany when it comes to the cost of medicines.
“In New Zealand for example there is no general co-payment for medicines, in Germany it’s under $17, while in France it’s just 50 Euro cents,” said Professor Twomey.
“We originally launched our ‘Affordable Medicines Now’ campaign following conversations with some of our patients who told us that they were having to choose between medicines for their family or food on the table.
“Unfortunately, we’re having those same conversations again,” Professor Twomey said.