Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net

Gets you listed medicines cheaper or free if you’ve reached the Safety Net threshold during the year.

What a Safety Net threshold is

The PBS Safety Net is calculated on a calendar year and resets at the beginning of each year. The thresholds are updated on 1 January.

The 2018 PBS Safety Net threshold is:

  • $1,521.80 for general patients, or
  • $384 for concession card holders

Before you meet the threshold, your medication will cost:

  • up to $39.50 for general patients, or
  • up to $6.40 for concession card holders

Your pharmacist can tell you when you’re close to reaching the threshold. You can ask them about getting a PBS Safety Net card. This card will be valid for the rest of the calendar year.

You can reach the PBS Safety Net using prescriptions filled at:

  • community pharmacies
  • private hospitals approved to supply PBS medicine, or
  • out-patient pharmacies at public hospitals

Use a hospital Prescription Record Form to record medicines dispensed at out-patient pharmacies at public hospitals. You can get the form from your hospital pharmacist. The amount you'll pay for these medicines is different in each state and territory. This is the amount that contributes to your threshold. These amounts are set under the Joint Safety Net arrangement.

To find out more about the Joint Safety Net arrangement:

  • check with your public hospital out-patient department, or
  • read about the Safety Net Scheme on the Department of Health website

How to keep track of medicines that count towards the threshold

Keep a record of your PBS medicines on a Prescription Record Form. You can get this from your pharmacist. If you do this, you’ll know when you’ve reached the PBS Safety Net threshold.

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

  • keep a computer record for you, and
  • combine your medication for all eligible family members

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

When you reach the threshold

When you reach the PBS Safety Net threshold and apply for a PBS Safety Net Card, your pharmacist will give it to you. You need this card to get cheaper or free PBS medicine.

Your medicine for the rest of the year will be:

  • up to $6.40 for general patients
  • free for concession card holders

If you spend over the threshold before you get the card, you may get a refund.

To get a refund:

When you’re a PBS Safety Net family

If you combine your family’s PBS amounts, you may reach the threshold sooner.

A family is:

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

A dependent child:

  • is younger than 16
  • is a full time student younger than 25
  • attends school, college or university and you support them financially

When you get your medicine early

If you get a repeat supply of medicine early, none of the amount charged for the medicine will count towards your Safety Net threshold. If you’ve already reached the Safety Net threshold, and  need an early supply of a medicine, the prescription will be supplied at your non-Safety Net amount, not at the reduced Safety Net rate.

How to update your details or request a replacement or supplementary PBS Safety Net card

To update your personal details or get a replacement or supplementary card:

Department of Human Services
Pharmaceutical Benefits Section
GPO Box 9826
In your capital city

Page last updated: 12 December 2018