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Pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS)

Through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Federal Government pays part of the cost of some medicine. Learn how to better understand the PBS.

What is the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)? 

Many medicines cost much more than the price you pay - some cost hundreds of dollars, but the Federal Government pays most of it for you through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). It's available to Australian residents and eligible visitors from countries with reciprocal arrangements with Australia

Who is eligible for the PBS? 

Australian residents who hold a current Medicare card, and overseas visitors from countries that have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement in place are eligible for the PBS.  

But not everyone is entitled to the government subsidy for their prescribed medication. Eligibility factors include age, sex, medical condition and patient history. 

How to make a claim on the PBS 

Not all medications are listed on the PBS. If you are prescribed a medication that is not covered by the PBS, you will have to pay the full price. That’s where having Extras cover may help cover some of the cost of prescription medication that isn’t listed on the PBS.

Learn how to make a claim on your Extras cover for non-PBS listed medicines. 

What is the PBS safety net? 

Pharmacists must document PBS and Repatriation PBS item supplies upon your request. Once you have hit the Safety Net threshold in a calendar year, you become eligible for reduced or free items on PBS or RPBS medications for the remainder of that year.  

The Safety Net thresholds are adjusted on 1 January each year in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). There are two Safety Net thresholds that apply from 1 January 2024:  

  • If you have a concession card, the safety net will be $277.20 

  • For anyone else who is eligible the safety net is $1,647.90 

What is covered under the PBS?  

To find out if your medication is covered under the PBS, search the name of your medication online on the PBS website. If your medication does not show up in the search, it is not included in the PBS.  

Changes to the PBS  

Occasionally medicines will be removed or added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. If a medication you once used is no longer listed on the website, check the latest on the PBS to see if changes were made.  

For more information about the PBS, visit the Department of Health website