Re-examining the distribution of health benefits in Australia: Who benefits from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme?

Deborah Schofield

Research output: Book/ReportOther report

Abstract

This paper presents an examination of the distribution of pharmaceutical benefits. Pharmaceutical benefits, paid through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), are an important part of the Australian 'social wage' and represent 12 per cent of total public expenditure on health. However, pharmaceutical benefits have received relatively little attention although their allocation of expenditure is unique within the Australian health system. Unlike Medicare, which funds hospital and medical services, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is means tested, with the subsidy determined by the income of the recipient and the type of medication taken. In this paper, pharmaceutical benefits have been modelled so as to take account of both the income and medication use of individual recipients. Also examined is the distribution of PBS benefits according to need based on measures of health status and the wide variation in the distribution of benefits within as well as between income groups. The analysis suggests that the existing means-based approaches used to simulate the distribution of pharmaceutical benefits in Australia produce misleading estimates.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherUniversity of Canberra
Number of pages51
ISBN (Print)085889730X
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameDiscussion paper (University of Canberra. National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling)
PublisherUniversity of Canberra
No.36
ISSN (Print)1320-3398

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