The Safety Net

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Healthcare costs can really add up when you have more than one prescription. Many people don’t realise until it’s too late how much a family’s worth of prescriptions can add up to. That being said, there is assistance available.

Safety Net is a catch all organisation that attempts to offset the costs of healthcare by offering discounts to those who qualify. You are considered eligible when you can demonstrate the fact that you have paid over the required threshold. At this point, you can fill out an application to receive a Safety Net card that will entitle you to low cost (if any cost) prescriptions from PBS.

What is the threshold of eligibility?

As of 2015, the thresholds have been set at the following levels:

$1,453.90 – This qualifies general patients for a Safety Net card that will entitle them to paying $6.10 per prescription for the rest of the year.

Veterans Affairs, Pension holders, Concession Card Holders who have had at least 60 prescriptions will be eligible for free PBS prescriptions for the rest of the year.

If you are getting close to the Safety Net threshold, or you think that you are getting close, all you need to do is ask about a PBS Safety Net card. They can help you establish eligibility for the discount, and even apply for a card. Once you have a card, you can receive your prescriptions at a discount (if not for free) for the rest of the year.

That being said, there are limits. If you elect to pay for more expensive medications, it is likely you will wind up paying more – and it may not qualify towards establishing the threshold. If in doubt, feel free to ask your pharmacist if this medication will qualify.

Demonstrating eligibility

To demonstrate eligibility, you must become your own record keeper. Pharmacies are notorious for not communicating with each other, so you need to be your own expert in terms of medical expenses.

The best way to do this is with a Prescription Record Form. These can be obtained at the local pharmacy. This provides one place to record all of your PBS medications in one place, regardless of pharmacy.

It is worth noting that you can claim these expenses for not only yourself, but also for your dependents. You can claim children under the age of 16, or full time dependents under the age of 25, a spouse, or a de facto spouse. Combining these amounts may allow you to establish eligibility sooner than otherwise.


If you find out about the Safety Net discount cards but have already exceeded the threshold levels, you may well earn a refund. This merely requires a refund receipt instead of a card application.

This can be accomplished by completing a PBS patient claim for refund form and submitting it at a Medicare Service Centre.

Time Lines of Prescriptions

It is important to only pick up prescriptions when they are needed, because multiple prescriptions within a twenty day period may not count towards establishing your threshold, or be eligible for discount.

Non-PBS Prescriptions

At times, physicians prescribe non-PBS medications for your condition. Unfortunately, these do not qualify whatsoever towards the PBS Safety Net Threshold, and will need to be paid out of pocket.




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