CHF calls for single PBS-MBS safety net


The consumer advocacy group is calling for a sweeping range of changes across healthcare policy

In its election manifesto released on Tuesday 7 June, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has proposed a single comprehensive safety net across the PBS and MBS.

They say the move would reduce the financial burden for patients with persistently high out-of-pocket costs.

“Australians face some of the highest out-of-pocket expenses in the OECD,” the organisation writes.

“This is despite the existence of the universal insurance cover provided by Medicare, the subsidised medicines provided under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and that close to half of the population have private health insurance.”

As a result of rising costs across the board, data shows around 10% of people delay getting prescriptions or don’t get them filled at all.

The same proportion either delays going to a GP or puts off their visit completely.

A single comprehensive safety net across both the MBS and PBS would address these inefficiencies and inequities in access to healthcare, CHF argues.

Two safety nets apply in the PBS – general and concessional – and there are three MBS safety nets:

  • $400 for singles and families with Commonwealth concession cards
  • $700 for families who qualify for Family Tax Benefits Part (A), and single people without concession cards
  • $1,000 for all other couples and families

CHF is also calling for no new or additional co-payments; increases in co-payments and safety net thresholds to be limited to indexation in line with inflation; and removal of the freeze on indexation of Medicare rebates.

The ALP has committed to scrapping the Coalitions proposed increase in PBS co-payments and safety net thresholds, along with the Medicare rebate freeze.

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