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One in six skip medicines as cost of living and healthcare budget takes shape

Medicines Cost

More than one in six voters say they or their families have been unable to purchase medicines due to cost. This is a two-point jump since January when the price of medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) went up again.

The number of people finding prescription medicines difficult to afford has also risen to 27 per cent, up three points since January.

The January 1 price rise brought the cost of some PBS medicines to $42.50, putting the maximum co-payment on track to reach $50 per script by the end of the decade.

Non-concession cardholders who have been unable to purchase medicines (12 per cent) have also been unable to afford other essentials such as petrol (12 per cent) and groceries (12 per cent), pointing to an unacceptable choice between immediate needs and health-preserving prescription medicines.

Parents with children at home are finding it increasingly hard to afford medicines, with 39 per cent saying they or their family had found it difficult to purchase the medicines they need, up seven points since January.

In regional areas, 28 per cent of people without a concession card have found medicines difficult to afford, a significant five-point increase since January.

Women without a concession card are still most affected by medicine unaffordability, with over a third (34 per cent) aged 35 to 54 and nearly a third (31 per cent) of women aged 18-34 struggling to afford, along with middle income households (30 per cent).

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey, said that health and cost of living are now the top two issues for voters at the upcoming election.

“Families are being forced to choose between medicines and immediate needs like food or the fuel. This is bad news for their health and wellbeing and will translate into a higher burden on hospitals and emergency healthcare,” he said

“This is also a false economy for a government trying to rein in costs while people are struggling. There aren’t many levers the Government can pull to reduce the cost of living, but it does have the ability to make PBS medicines more affordable for middle-income households. For many households, these medicines are the cost of staying alive.”

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