banner image
06 | 01 | 23
01 | 23

What is the PBS?

OSHCstudents – The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) lets Australians, international students and visitors to Australia use lots of prescribed medicines without paying full price.

The PBS is part of the Australian Government’s National Medicines Policy. The National Medicines Policy aims to balance the need for medicines with good health results and economic limits.

The PBS aims to offer safe, affordable medicines to all Australians.

The government subsidises the cost of medicine for most medical conditions, through the PBS. The PBS has existed since 1948.

You can browse the PBS online:

  • to look at all drugs listed on the PBS
  • to learn more about the prescribing of PBS medicines
  • for detailed patient information on medicines prescribed by your doctor or dentist
  • to find out what you can expect to pay for medicines

Who can use the PBS?

The PBS can be used by all Australians who hold a current Medicare card.

Overseas students and visitors who have a valid OSHC/OVHC.

Overseas visitors from countries that have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia can also get medicines through the PBS.

This covers visitors from:

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom


How much do medicines cost on the PBS?


Everybody has to pay something towards the cost of medicines. This is called the co-payment. Many PBS medicines cost much more than the co-payment.

From January 1, 2022, the most you will have to pay is:

  • $42.50 for general patients
  • $6.80 if you hold a concession card

The amount of the co-payment changes on 1 January each year, in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). You can check the current fees here.

To be able to use the concession benefit, you must hold one of the following cards:

Brand premiums

Some medicines might have a price premium or brand premium. This is an extra payment that you pay to the supplier of the specified brand of a PBS medicine. The extra charge does not mean there is any difference in quality between brands.

This happens when there are 2 or more brands of the same medicine available. The Government subsidises each brand to the same amount. They are subsidised up to the cost of the lowest priced brand, minus your co-payment.

If you are prescribed a more expensive brand, you pay the difference in price. This cost goes to the supplier NOT to the Government.

This brand premium is in addition to your co-payment.

You can ask your pharmacist to give you a less expensive brand. This is often called “generic medication”. Your doctor must agree that you can have a different brand of medicine to the one they prescribed.

If you have any concerns, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

PBS safety net

The Australian Government gives more support for people who spend a lot of money on health care. This is called the safety net.

The safety net uses the idea of a ‘family unit’. This could be:

  • a person
  • a couple
  • a family

After your family unit spends a certain amount of money on healthcare, new PBS prescriptions become cheaper or free.

From 1 July 2022, the general patient Safety Net threshold is $1,457.10. When a family unit’s total co-payments reach this amount, you can sign up for a Safety Net concession card. After this point, you pay the concessional co-payment amount of $6.80 for the rest of the calendar year.

From 1 July 2022, the concessional Safety Net threshold is $244.80. When a family unit’s total co-payments reach this amount, you can sign up for a Safety Net entitlement card. This lets you receive pharmaceutical benefits free of charge for the rest of the calendar year.

OSHCstudents (source: healthdirect)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


News related

Things are not covered by OSHC in Australia 24/10/2023 | 584 Views

Things are not covered by OSHC in Australia

OSHCstudents-Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is mandatory for international students in Australia, and it provides coverage for a range of medical services. The specific coverage may vary slightly depending on the insurance provider and policy, but here are some common aspects of what is typically not covered by OSHC.
How to maintain a healthy diet as an international student in Australia? 22/10/2023 | 429 Views

How to maintain a healthy diet as an international student in Australia?

OSHCstudents-Embarking on an international academic journey is an exciting and enriching experience, but it often comes with unique challenges, including maintaining a healthy diet. As an international student in Australia, the unfamiliarity with local food options, budget constraints, and the temptation of fast food can sometimes make it a daunting task to prioritize nutrition. In this guide, we will explore practical tips and insights to help you navigate the Australian culinary landscape, make informed food choices, and ensure that your time as an international student is not only academically rewarding but also a journey towards a healthier you.
Baek Ah Yeon

I trust Allianz Care since it is one of the largest insurance companies in Australia, with the medical centres where I only have to pay for what is left from insurance support. (no need to claim later). Besides, those centres are located at the centre of the city, close to schools. Very convenient, right? Credits to Allianz Care for providing reliable medical centres for health check and treatments.

Baek Ah Yeon | University of Queensland

Ariella Pei

I’ve been living with homestay family for 2 years. I’m now 19, I can move out but I don’t want to leave my host, who has become my family. It feels like I’ve met my second family. Thanks OSHCstudents for sending me to this homestay!

Ariella Pei | University of Canberra

Chatchawat Paton

I realised how important insurance was when I started living in Australia. There I switched to using Allianz Care instead of the previous service. Allianz Care is extraordinarily good in its consulting service and customer care. I’ve learned a lot about Australian health care, also I was consulted with mental issues and how to live a healthy lifestyle. I am very happy now.

Chatchawat Paton | Torrent University

Phuong Anh

Having lived in Australia for 2 years, I’ve been reliant on AHM OSHC to pay for my health care, which supports me for other expenses. Last year, I sent my claim requests for several times and always received the claims within two days. Everything is easy, fast and simple.

Phuong Anh | Victoria University

Xiaoyu Cheng

Thanks to Allianz Care, every time I claimed my medical receipts it processed much more quickly and easily than I expected. I was initially a bit concerned since Allianz Care is more expensive than other insurance companies, but now I can ensure that it is totally worth the money.

Xiaoyu Cheng | Monash University


My homestay was very comfortable and convenient. My host was really kind. He showed me where to shop, which buses to catch, where the nearest train station is, to get off at which station so that I wouldn’t be taken to another suburb. Travelling was easy since the place was close to public transports. It only took 30 minutes to get to my college, actually I could go anywhere easily!

Emma | Macquarie University

Jing Zhang

When told that I was going to live with an Italian family, I was pretty nervous and doubted whether or not they could speak English well as the local people? Yet it was no longer a problem when I saw them. They knew the problems of people who first came to Australia and always tried to help me. I learned so many things about both Australian and Italian culture and enjoyed tasty Italian meals every time. Awesome!

Jing Zhang | Griffith University

OSHCstudents Services


  • PTE Platform
  • Inus
  • Flywire
  • Imagine Education Australia
  • Shorelight
  • Opera City English College


  • Pearson PTE Academic
  • King Education
  • North Sydney College English
  • NIB
  • HCC
  • Global Experience
  • Bupa
  • Vodafone
  • OVHC Iman
  • Allianz
  • Medibank
  • AHM