$1 discount didn’t drive pharmacy choice


$1 pharmacy discount: single dollar coin

Less than 10% of consumer respondents to a King Review survey deliberately chose a pharmacy to obtain the $1 copayment discount

The controversial optional $1 copayment discount has not been a key driver of pharmacy choice, according to an externally-produced report for the King Review, which examined consumer attitudes, expectations and experiences of consumers interacting with community pharmacy.

Participants were asked whether they had benefited from the discount, which has been opposed by the Pharmacy Guild since its inception.

The report found that participants who visited a pharmacy on a weekly basis (28%) were significantly more likely to agree that the $1 discount had been of benefit to them or someone they care about, compared to those who visited pharmacy less often (19% at least once a month and 12% less than once a month).

In contrast, however, 62% of participants who work in a role that requires the use of pharmacy services were significantly more likely to disagree that the discount had been of such benefit, compared to other health professionals and members of the general public.

“Among the 20% reporting having benefited from the $1 discount to the PBS medicines co-payment, a larger proportion indicated that the discount had been applied to medicines for which they would have been charged the concessional co-payment (61%), than indicated that it had been applied to medicines for which they would have paid the full co-payment (50%),” the report found.

“Participants older than 30 years (53% of those aged 30 to 49 years and 59% of those aged 50 to 69 years) were more likely to have had the discount applied to medicines for which they would have paid the full (non-concessional) co-payment compared to those younger than 30 years (22%).”

Only 8% of participants reported having specifically selected a pharmacy in order to obtain the $1 discount.

“Members of the general public (11%) were significantly more likely to have reported having specifically selected a pharmacy to obtain the $1 discount than other health professionals/practitioners and those who work in a role that requires the use of pharmacy services (11%, compared to 3% for both other health professionals and those who work in a role that requires pharmacy services).

“Weekly pharmacy users were more likely than less frequent pharmacy users to have chosen a pharmacy in order to obtain the $1 co-payment discount (10%, compared to 4% of those using a pharmacy less often than once a month).”

A spokesperson for the Pharmacy Guild told the AJP that the low uptake of consumers seeking pharmacies offering the $1 discount highlighted that the fact it could affect consumers’ Safety Net was a real concern.

“Consumers recognised that the $1 discount simply made the Safety Net threshold harder to reach,” the spokesperson said.

An option presented in the King Review interim report was abolition of the optional discount.

The Guild stated in its submission to the Review that: “On the interest of PBS universality, the pharmacy funded optional $1 discount should be immediately abolished.”

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5 Comments

  1. bernardlou1
    15/07/2017

    I’m not surprised at the low uptake of the $1.00 co-payment discount.
    Consumer aren’t silly, they still value the genuine advice and care traditional community pharmacy offers.
    And from another angle why should I devalue my time and knowledge in my daily practice?

    • Margaret Topp
      17/07/2017

      Unfortunately once you offer the $1 discount, it is impossible to take back the offer, especially if you are in the same block as a dicounter.

      • Jarrod McMaugh
        17/07/2017

        I agree with this.

        When i purchased my pharmacy 18 months ago, the discount was rampant (including DAA and nursing home patients!).

        I reduce it from several thousand a month to a much more manageable number, although it was difficult.

        I don’t compete on price, and while we lost some patients due to overall prices being a reflection of the service level we provide, none of those who left did due to removing the $1 discount.

        I always explain that for most patients they are not better off, and that for my regular patients, we provide them the service and trading hours that deserve the wages I pay, and therefore the prices I charge.

        It’s not for everyone, but I’m now in a position where I can say to myself that patients want the service, otherwise they would not have walked in my door. If they want the service, despite asking for a discount, they will pay for it when I say that I can’t discount for them.

  2. Jarrod McMaugh
    15/07/2017

    I have 2 pharmacies close to mine that always discount, and 2 more tha regularly discount

    I have not lost customers for not discounting.

  3. Tim
    16/07/2017

    The $1 discount was a thought bubble from the previous failed Minister for Health.. She should have taken it with her when she vanished up to her Gold Coast apartment..

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