Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net

The PBS Safety Net reduces the cost of prescription medicines for individuals and families once the PBS Safety Net threshold has been reached.

Safety Net thresholds

The thresholds are updated each year on 1 January. The following rates are for 2017.

Rates for 2017 General patients Concession card holders
Patient contribution Up to $38.80 $6.30
PBS Safety Net threshold $1,494.90 $378
When PBS Safety Net threshold is reached $6.30 Free

When you are close to the PBS Safety Net threshold, ask your pharmacist about a PBS Safety Net card. With this card your PBS medicine is less expensive, or free, for the rest of the calendar year.

If you choose a more expensive brand of medicine, you may need to pay more, and the extra amount won't count towards your PBS Safety Net threshold. Talk to your pharmacist for more information.

If spend over the threshold before you get your PBS Safety Net card, you may be eligible for a refund.

To get a refund:

Recording your PBS medicines

Keep a record of your PBS medicines on a Prescription Record Form, available from your pharmacist. Use this form to record your PBS medicines so you know when you have reached the PBS Safety Net threshold.

If the same pharmacist provides all your PBS medicines, ask them:

  • to keep a computer record for you
  • about combining the amounts for all eligible family members

PBS Safety Net family

If you combine your family’s PBS amounts, you may reach the PBS Safety Net threshold sooner. You can then get a PBS Safety Net card from your pharmacist.

A family is:

  • a couple legally married and not separated, or a couple in a de facto relationship, with or without dependent children, or
  • a single person with dependent children

A dependent child is someone:

  • younger than 16 years of age or a full time student younger than 25 years of age
  • attending school, college or university, and
  • who you substantially support financially

Non-PBS prescriptions

Your doctor may give you a private prescription or prescribe medicine for your condition that isn’t listed or available on the PBS. You’ll need to pay the full price for the medicine at the pharmacy. Non-PBS prescriptions do not count towards your PBS Safety Net threshold.

Public hospitals and the Joint PBS Safety Net

You can reach the PBS Safety Net using prescriptions filled at both community pharmacies and out-patient pharmacies at public hospitals. This arrangement is known as the Joint Safety Net arrangements.

The amount charged under the Joint Safety Net arrangements by public hospitals is determined by each state and territory.

Check with your public hospital out-patient department or read more about the Safety Net Scheme on the PBS website.

PBS Safety Net early supply rule

You should only get your PBS medicines supplied when you need them.

The PBS Safety Net early supply rule means that for some PBS or Repatriation PBS medicines, a repeat supply of the same medicine within a set time will fall outside the PBS Safety Net.

If the early supply rule applies for a prescription, this means:

  • your payment for that prescription won’t count towards your PBS Safety Net threshold
  • if you’ve reached the PBS Safety Net threshold, the charge will be your usual contribution amount, not the reduced PBS Safety Net amount

Changing your PBS Safety Net registration and ordering a new PBS Safety Net card

To change your PBS Safety Net registration or to arrange a replacement or supplementary PBS Safety Net card:

Page last updated: 1 January 2017