Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed the Government's abandonment of the GP co-payment announced in its May budget will be short-lived, with "different options" already being considered to replace it.
Sources have told the ABC the original $7 co-payment will be dropped by the end of the year as part of what the Prime Minister calls a "barnacle clearing" exercise.
But the Government remains committed to a policy of "price signalling" on Medicare services.
"We are not ruling in or out different options that might be available to the Government and we are determined to send a price signal to make Medicare sustainable," Mr Dutton said.
The Minister would not be drawn on what "different options" were being considered.
It seems that Australians are getting rorted on Medication costs, even under the governments PBS, compared to other advanced countries like the United Kingdom.
With the Government screaming that health costs are surging and slapping everyday Aussies with additional taxes, co-payments and charges… news that taxpayers are wasting $400 million per year on medication won’t help its cause.
Of the 20 most commonly prescribed medications in Australia, the Government pays a lot more when compared to the government system in the UK for 19 of the 20.
This is despite the price disclosure policy implemented seven years ago and designed to stop the rort by large pharmaceutical companies.
While the Government sets the price it does pay for drugs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Subsidy (PBS) scheme, drug companies sell the drugs directly to pharmacists who make profits of up to 80 per cent.
The price disclosure policy was intended to identify the discount prices drug companies were charging pharmacists and was set to save $18 billion from the reforms in the decade from 2007-17.
However, despite the savings achieved, University of Melbourne economist Professor Philip Clarke has found that we’re still paying more than we should.
Analysing the latest price cuts implemented on 1 October, he found that Clopidogrel, the anti-clotting medication, costs the Government $12 per pack compared to the $3.60 paid by the British government and this isn’t the only drug for which we pay more.
“The Australian government is still paying way more for other drugs for example each tablet of a typical dose of (antipsychotic) Olanzapine cost $2.55 (per pill) in Australia, but just 13 cents in England,” he said.
“There is significant scope for Government to make further savings and to implement policies that would make widely used drugs cheaper for many consumers,” Professor Clarke said.
The news comes hot on the heels of Health Minister Peter Dutton warning that health costs are spiralling and that there is a planned $5 hike in January 2015, which will push the cost of prescription medications to $42 for those not in receipt of a concession. If the Government simply paid the market prices for generic drugs, consumers would see the cost of scripts halved.
This is just another example of cost of living expenses in Australia not being appropriately handled by the Australian authorities - who have the ability to lessen the burden on its citizens. From clothing to software and medicine - it looks like we are being ripped off left right and centre.
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