Older Australians are likely to delay filling their prescriptions, reduce their dosages or share medications if the Federal Government increases the PBS co-payment, said leading seniors advocate COTA Australia today.

COTA CE Ian Yates said COTA will tell the Senate Inquiry into the PBS in Canberra today that many older Australians already struggle to meet the high costs of necessary medications.
“Older people are more likely to have complex and chronic conditions requiring multiple medications,” Mr Yates said.

“They are more likely to have to go to the doctor, more likely to see a specialist and more likely to be an inpatient in a hospital than younger people.

“The effect of the increased PBS co-payment then will be significant for people in the older demographic, especially with the double-whammy of the introduction of the proposed GP co-payment.

“Many older people are telling us they can’t afford all their medications now, even at the concessional rate. Instead they might only take their medicine every other day, drop some completely, or share medications with other people. Some don’t fill their scripts at all.

“This is a concerning trend which means their health deteriorates.

“Whilst the PBS co-payment may give the Government the short term savings it is looking for on the PBS expenditures, it has the potential to drive up other health costs in the longer term as people need higher levels of care for their worseing health conditions.”

Mr Yates said most older people are on low or fixed incomes and have limited discretionary income.

“The co-payment increases represent a rise of 13.3 per cent, in addition to any increase due to inflation as measured by CPI.

“It is hard to see how many older people are going to be able to absorb such an increase without sacrificing something else.

“Getting the right mediation at the right time should not depend on your ability to pay for it and older Australians should not have to choose between food, heating and medications.”

Download a copy of the media release

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.