Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Safety Net

Gets you medicines cheaper or free if you’ve spent over a set amount on them that year.

Safety Net thresholds

The PBS Safety Net threshold is:

  • $1,494.90 for general patients, or
  • $378 for concession card holders

Before you meet the PBS Safety Net threshold, your medication will cost:

  • up to $38.80 for general patients, or
  • up to $6.30 for concession card holders

When you reach the PBS Safety Net threshold and the pharmacist gives you a safety net card, your medication for the remainder of the year will be:

  • up to $6.30 for general patients
  • free for concession card holders

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

Getting your PBS Safety Net Card

You need a PBS Safety Net Card to get cheaper or free PBS medicine once you’ve reached the threshold.

When you’re close to reaching the threshold, ask your pharmacist about getting a PBS Safety Net card. This card will be valid for the rest of the calendar year.

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.

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

To get a refund:

Know when you reach the threshold

Keep a record of your PBS medicines on a Prescription Record Form. You can get this from your pharmacist. By doing 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

PBS Safety Net for families

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

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
  • a full time student younger than 25
  • attending school, college or university who you support financially

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

  • community pharmacies and private hospitals approved to supply PBS medicines, 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. Under the Joint Safety Net arrangement, each state and territory determines the amount charged for these medicines, which is the amount that contributes to your threshold.

For more information 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’s website

The PBS Safety Net early supply rule

Some PBS medicines won't count towards the threshold. This may happen if you fill prescription repeats too close together.

If you fill PBS medicine prescription repeats too close together and you:

  • don’t have a current PBS Safety Net card, your payment for the prescription won’t count towards the threshold
  • have a current PBS Safety Net Card, the cost of the prescription will be your usual contribution amount, not the cheaper PBS Safety Net amount

If you move or need a new PBS Safety Net card

To update your address or get a replacement card:

Related payments and services

Page last updated: 7 July 2017