The PBS Safety Net entitles people to free or cheaper medicines if they spend more than a certain amount on PBS (prescription) medicines in a calendar year. Once you spend this amount, you reach the Safety Net threshold and:
- your payments are reduced to the concessional rate for the rest of the calendar year, or
- if you normally pay the concessional rate, PBS medicines will be free for the rest of the year.
Thresholds for the Safety Net are adjusted annually. You can find out what the current Safety Net thresholds are for eligible Australians on the PBS website.
To be eligible for free or cheaper medicines under the PBS Safety Net scheme, you must have a record of how much you have spent on PBS medicines that year. If you always use the same pharmacy, ask them to record your spending on their computer. You can ask for a printout of your spending at any time.
If you use different pharmacies, you can:
- obtain a printout of your spending from each, or
- record all your spending on a prescription record form, which can be obtained from any pharmacy.
The Safety Net applies to a calendar year, so ask for a form the first time you buy a PBS medicine in a new year and hand it to the pharmacist each time you have a prescription filled. The pharmacist will record the medicine and its cost on the form.
When your record shows that you have spent the required amount on PBS medicines, your pharmacist will give you a Safety Net Card that you can use to obtain free or cheaper medicines for the rest of the calendar year.
If you have a family, ask your pharmacy to combine the amounts spent on medicines into one Safety Net total, or use one prescription record form for the entire family. An eligible family can be made up of you, your spouse (including de facto spouse), dependent children under 16 years and dependent students under 25 years.
Keep in mind that the any amounts you pay on brand price premiums do not count towards your Safety Net threshold.
The Safety Net early supply rule
If you fill your repeat prescriptions too close together, the Safety Net early supply rule applies, meaning even if you are already using a Safety Net Card, you will have to pay your usual PBS patient payment for the medicine, not the Safety Net rate. If you haven't reached the Safety Net threshold, the cost of the medicine will not count towards your Safety Net tally.
This rule is designed to prevent people on a Safety Net Card using their card to obtain additional unnecessary supplies of their medicines at the end of a calendar year.
This rule applies only to certain PBS medicines, depending on the type of medicine and the quantity that can be supplied on a prescription.