Mick McEniery said seniors needed help with their medical costs too, following a price cut in prescription medicines.
Mick McEniery said seniors needed help with their medical costs too, following a price cut in prescription medicines. Kerri Burns-Taylor

Pensioners still feel pinch

GETTING sick is set to have a little less impact on your wallet, with the Federal Government announcing major cuts to prescription prices.

Up to $14 has been slashed off 1000 brands of 60 different prescription medications, with an average saving of $3 a script.

The announcement is set to be met with open arms by families but not everyone will benefit.

Pensioners and concession card holders will not receive any further concessions under the scheme.

Warwick Senior Citizens Association publicity officer Mick McEniery said it was great to see the government issue the relief but many pensioners were still doing it tough.

"It is amazing how many people are just existing on a pension and the whole system needs looking at," he said.

Mr McEniery said seniors were more likely to need to make doctor visits and need to fill more prescriptions than most other groups and it could be a huge financial burden.

He said one way to ease the strain would be to offer an additional medical subsidy to aged pensioners.

"Even though there are some seniors who are entitled to subsidies, there are others that aren't and it can get very expensive for them," he said.

Mr McEniery said he believed a number of seniors avoided filling prescriptions or visiting the doctor because their pension can't be stretched far enough.

"Some seniors are just surviving and it gets worse in winter, when things like adequate heating become a major issue.

"The price of gas and electricity are going up and some people can't afford it so they stay in bed all day."

The prescription cuts came into effect yesterday.

 

Price cuts for more than 60 lines

MORE than 60 medicines and almost 1000 brands have dropped in price significantly from April 1.

The reduced charges will not only benefit consumers but will also save the Federal Government the cost of subsidies that underpin the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

PBS is a federal government initiative that subsidises the cost of prescription medicines.

Pensioner and concession card holders will continue to pay a capped price of $5.80 for their medicines.

National president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia National Secretariat Kos Sclavos said the most consumers paid for PBS prescription medicine was $35.40.

He said the actual cost price of those medicines was previously around $48 - meaning a subsidy of $12.60 for each prescribed medicine.

But as of April 1, manufacturers with medicines affected by the change have been forced to reduce their prices, abolishing the need for subsidy.

"Lipex 40mg - cholesterol lowering medicine - was a cost to government of $44.48 and thus, for a general patient paying $35.40, the tax payer subsidised $9.08," Mr Sclavos said.

"However, now the price has fallen to $29.84 for a general patient and thus no tax payer subsidy needed."

The changes were the result of negotiations between the Federal Government and Medicines Australia, the peak organisation representing brand pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Patients can check prices and subsidised products on pbs.gov.au



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