Reducing medicine costs under the Safety Net Scheme

Last updated: 
13 December 2019

After you spend a certain amount on some medicines, you may be able to get them for free. This scheme may help you if you need to spend a lot on medicine or wound care items.

What is the Safety Net Scheme

The PBS Safety Net was established for patients and their families that require a large number of PBS or RPBS items. 

The Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) pays most of the cost of your medicines and wound care items, so that in most circumstances you only pay a co-payment. All the co-payments you and your dependant family members make within a calendar year combine towards the annual Safety Net threshold. 

There are 2 Safety Net thresholds: 

  • The concessional patient Safety Net threshold is $316.80
  • The general patient Safety Net threshold is $1,486.80

If you pay the concession rate of $6.60 for your medicines, the concessional Safety Net threshold will generally apply to you. 

If you pay the general contribution of $41.00 for your medicines the general patient safety net threshold will generally apply to you. 

If you reach your Safety Net threshold, you may no longer need to make co-payments for prescribed items covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) or the RPBS during that calendar year. 

Who can receive it

If your combined co-payments within a calendar year reach your Safety Net threshold, you may not need to make a co-payment for your prescribed PBS and RPBS items for the rest of the year. 

If you have dependent family members you can arrange for their medicines to count towards the total, even if they pay different co-payment rates than you. 

Which threshold applies to you 

During a calendar year, if you have access to both concessional and general rate medicines, you choose which safety net threshold best suits you. If you have dependent family members the same applies. 

If you would like more information about the PBS Safety Net, please refer to the PBS website or talk to your pharmacist. 

You may choose to keep a separate record for each concession rate and general rate co-payments so you can determine what works best for you. 

What you can receive

After reaching your Safety Net threshold, your pharmacist will issue you a Safety Net Card. You can also get a Safety Net Card for your dependants. 

The card may allow you to access PBS and RPBS items without making a co-payment for the rest of the calendar year for the lowest priced brand of medicine.

How you claim

You do not need to make a claim to get the Safety Net Card. 

To keep track of how much you and your family spend on medicines each calendar year, ask your pharmacist for a Prescription Record Form (PRF). Every time you have a prescription filled, ask the pharmacist to record it on your PRF. That way you will know when you reach your Safety Net threshold.

Once you have reached your Safety Net threshold, give your completed PRF to a pharmacist. They will issue you a Safety Net Card. If you need a spare card for your partner or child, ask the pharmacist. Show your Safety Net Card every time you get a prescription filled.

How to use the Safety Net Card

Present your Safety Net Card to your pharmacist along with your prescription for medicines and wound care items covered by the PBS or RPBS.

Things you should know

  • Pharmacists can choose to offer a discount of up to $1.00 on your $6.60 co-payment for each prescription. The amount that counts towards your Safety Net limit is the amount you actually pay. 
  • It is your responsibility to keep a record of your prescriptions. If you are likely to reach the Safety Net threshold and you haven’t been keeping a record, talk to your pharmacist to see if they can provide you with evidence of your prescriptions. 
  • If you need an extra Safety Net card for your child or partner, you can request one at the same time you receive your Safety Net Card from your pharmacist. If you did not get an extra card, and realise you need one later, please refer to the Department of Human Services form