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Health News

Consumer and medical groups welcome start of 60-day scripts for patients

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A patient getting a 60-day script
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Consumer and medical groups welcome start of 60-day scripts for patients

 

Consumer, health and doctor groups have welcomed the September 1 start of 60-day dispensing which will bring immediate benefits for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people.

This reform doubles the amount of medicines that pharmacists can dispense for stable conditions, on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, from 30 to 60 days – saving patients at least $180 a year and more if they’re taking multiple medicines.

The change is rolling out in three stages starting today, when the first group of medicines becomes available for 60-day scripts. It includes treatment for patients living with high cholesterol, hypertension, osteoporosis, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, gout, heart failure, and ulcerative colitis. Once the rollout is complete, over 300 medicines will be available for 60-day scripts.

This reform has been widely supported by patient and consumer groups, as well as medical groups.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners President Dr Nicole Higgins said: “This change is going to bring immediate benefits for some the most vulnerable people in our community, including people living with chronic and ongoing conditions. It will save patients money and mean fewer trips to pick up medicine and repeat scripts, as well as freeing up GP consultations. The change is happening in three stages, and I encourage people who think they may be eligible for 60-day scripts to talk to their GP.”

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said: “While asthma medications aren’t included in this first round, we welcome the start of this initiative at the beginning of Asthma Week, for all those Australians living with a chronic condition who can now afford to buy the medicine they need.”

Breast Cancer Network Australia Director Policy, Advocacy & Support Services Vicki Durston said: “BCNA welcomes the commencement of 60-day dispensing for certain medications. This will make medicines cheaper for people living with chronic disease, including those with breast cancer. Although not released in this tranche, we look forward to the release of hormone-blocking therapies used to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer in future rollouts of the program to reduce the cost for those diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow said: “The move to 60-day prescribing will make a big difference to the lives of many older people from a health, wellbeing and financial perspective. It’s a practical, common-sense change that recognises that medicines aren’t a luxury, but a necessity. This is an acknowledgement of how crucial it is that everyone can get timely, affordable access to the medicines they need to keep them healthy.”

A patient getting a 60-day script

Consumer, health and doctor groups have welcomed the September 1 start of 60-day dispensing which will bring immediate benefits for some of Australia’s most vulnerable people.

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke: “For millions of Australians and their loved ones who live with lung disease, being able to fill two months’ worth of vital everyday medicines for the price of one prescription is a tremendous hip pocket relief amid acute cost of living pain. This change means less unnecessary trips to the GP, freeing up the incredibly overburdened system, and less time for immunosuppressed people spent in crowded waiting areas. From our community’s perspective, those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will be immediately affected, and for patients with stable chronic conditions it also reduces their risk of missing medication dosages at the end of the month when their script runs out. The crucial job our pharmacists do as part of our health care teams will not change – they will still help people to understand their conditions, advise on monitoring symptoms and improve management of health at home.”

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Deputy CEO Dr Dawn Casey said: “We welcome both the convenience and savings that many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will derive from this measure.  This measure will relieve the burden of having to frequently access multiple clinical service providers in different locations to manage peoples’ chronic diseases. There is also a significant financial benefit, especially for working Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Despite existing medicines subsidy measures, ABS data continue to show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – like many other Australians – may need to forgo medication due to its cost.”

60-day medicine dispensing will                                                                             

  • Benefit approximately 6 million people with chronic and ongoing conditions – including a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) Australians who have a higher prevalence of chronic conditions.
  • Save consumers up to $180 a year and more for people taking multiple medicines.
  • Mean fewer trips to pick up medicines and repeat scripts, saving people time and money and freeing up GP appointments.
  • Bring Australia into line with other high-income countries like New Zealand, the USA and Canada, where people already have access to multiple months of medication on a single prescription.
  • Improve system equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who suffer more from chronic disease. There is strong evidence showing the value of medicine cost reduction for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Increase convenience for consumers, which will increase medication adherence.

Implement a recommendation from the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). PBAC has dismissed claims the change would cause medication shortages.

 

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Health News

Flu numbers explode, over 65s most at risk

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Flu North Coast
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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Flu numbers explode, over 65s most at risk

 

By Tim Howard

An explosion in flu cases across the state has prompted North Coast health authorities to urge people over 65 to book in for their free flu jabs as the virus continues to surge across the state.

Director of North Coast Population and Public Health Dr Valerie Delpech said a recent surveillance report revealed there had been a 25% jump in flu diagnoses in a week.

“Flu is rapidly increasing across the state,” Dr Delpech said. “In the past week alone presentations to NSW emergency departments increased by almost 22% for people with influenza-like illness.

“We are expecting the flu season will be around for several weeks to come, so now is the time to book in for your free flu vaccine to get the vital protection you need.”

Dr Delpech said the more elderly, who were in greater need of the protection vaccination offered, were lagging behind in vaccination rates.

“At present, just half of people 65 and over (52.4 per cent) in NSW have received their flu vaccine,” she said.

The doctor said with influenza, COVID-19 and RSV all circulating in the community, health services reminded the community to avoid visiting high-risk settings including hospitals and aged care facilities if they are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness.

“Vaccination is the best protection against infection and severe disease,” Dr Delpech said. “Everyone, but particularly those at increased risk of severe disease, is urged to get vaccinated now. By getting vaccinated you also help protect those around you.”

She said the influenza vaccine was free and readily available for those at higher risk of severe illness from influenza from GPs for any age group, as well as through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

Flu North Coast

South Grafton pharmacist Michael Troy was part of a successful campaign for a law change to allow pharmacists to vaccinate against the flu. He urges people to get regular flu shots ahead of every flu season.

Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza who are eligible for free vaccination include:

  • people aged 65 and over
  • children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • pregnant women
  • those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease.

Dr Delpech said there were some simple steps people could take to protect themselves and loved ones from respiratory viruses like COVID-19, influenza and RSV, including:

  • Stay up to date with your recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Get together outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including hand washing.

 

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Health News

Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

Health Insurance Premiums Skyrocket, Some by 15% or More: CHOICE

 

Should You Consider Self-Insurance? Plus Other Tips to Save!

Consumer group CHOICE has found that many Australians faced significant increases in their health insurance premiums in April, with some premiums rising as much as 17%—far higher than the annual average industry-wide price increase of 3.03%.

“CHOICE reviewed the prices of over 24,000 policies with hospital cover and found Gold policies had the highest premium increases, with average increases above 10% for HBF, HCF, HIF, and Australian Unity policies. One Gold policy in Western Australia even saw a 17% hike,” said CHOICE health insurance expert Jodi Bird.

“With these sky-high increases, it’s worth taking the time to review your health insurance to ensure you’re only paying for what you need, and that you’re getting it at the best possible price,” Bird added.

CHOICE’s Top Tips for Saving on Your Health Insurance

  1. Drop Gold Hospital Insurance

“Gold hospital cover has become too expensive. If you have a specific condition usually covered by Gold policies and want to use the private hospital system, look for a Silver Plus policy or consider self-insurance.”

Self-insurance is an alternative to private health insurance. Instead of paying an insurer, you save money yourself to cover private health costs as they arise. If you don’t need any health treatment, your savings will grow.

“We have found that in some cases, opting to self-fund your health care can be the better-value option,” Bird explained.

For example, cataract surgery, one of the most common surgical procedures in Australia, is often only covered by the most expensive Gold policies. CHOICE’s analysis showed that the annual cost of top-cover health insurance could exceed the out-of-pocket cost for a private cataract procedure.

“This option may only be suitable for people who have few health issues and do not anticipate any unexpected health events. And of course, you need to ensure you have the money set aside in case you require a surgical procedure or treatment in the private system,” Bird advised.

  1. Compare Policies to Find a Good Deal

“We always recommend comparing policies to find the best value policy to suit your needs. The same cover with a different insurer may save you hundreds of dollars a year. Look beyond the well-known big funds and consider smaller funds; switching to a smaller fund often provides a cheaper deal,” said Bird.

“If you’re unsure where to start, CHOICE has an independent health insurance comparison tool that allows you to compare thousands of policies from over 40 insurers,” Bird suggested.

  1. Do You Need Extras Insurance?

“The value of extras insurance really depends on the individual. It can be worth purchasing, but only if you use it enough that it pays out more than the premiums that are coming out of your pocket,” Bird noted.

“If you need extras insurance, shop around and buy your extras from a different provider than your standard hospital cover if you find a better deal,” Bird recommended.

Compare health insurance policies here: CHOICE Health Insurance Comparison Tool

 

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NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

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NOTICE OF MEMBERS EXTRAORINDARY LAND DEALING MEETING

NSW Seniors Urged to Book Free Flu Vaccine Amid Rising Respiratory Illnesses

 

People aged 65 and over are being strongly urged to book their free influenza vaccine as respiratory illnesses continue to rise across NSW.

The latest NSW Health Respiratory Surveillance Report, released today, indicates a rapid increase in influenza activity in NSW, with COVID-19 transmission also reaching high levels.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr. Kerry Chant reported a 27% increase in influenza notifications and a 23% increase in COVID-19 notifications for the week ending 25 May compared to the previous week.

“While everyone aged six months and over is urged to get their influenza vaccine as soon as possible, it is particularly important for those at higher risk of severe illness from the virus,” Dr. Chant said.

“Influenza immunisation rates aren’t where they need to be. Less than half of people aged 65 and over in NSW have received their influenza vaccine this year. We really need to see that number go up, especially as people in this age group are among those most at risk of severe illness.

“We expect the number of influenza cases to quickly increase in the weeks ahead, so now is the time to get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so.”

The influenza vaccine is free and readily available for those at higher risk of severe illness from influenza. It is available through GPs for any age group and through pharmacies for everyone aged five years and over.

Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) Infectious Diseases Paediatrician Dr. Phil Britton noted that influenza notifications are increasing across all age groups, particularly among young children aged three to four years.

“In recent weeks, we have seen influenza cases rising among young children. The best thing parents can do to keep their kids well this winter, and reduce the risk of them being hospitalised due to influenza, is to ensure their children receive a flu vaccine,” Dr. Britton said.

Free Flu Vaccination Eligibility:

  • People aged 65 and over
  • Children aged six months to under five years
  • Aboriginal people from six months of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, severe asthma, kidney, heart, and lung disease

Steps to Protect Yourself and Others from Respiratory Viruses:

  • Stay up to date with recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you are sick and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • Gather outdoors or in large, well-ventilated spaces with open doors and windows
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Consider doing a rapid antigen test (RAT) before visiting people at higher risk of severe illness
  • Talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • Don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19 or influenza
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including regular hand washing

For more information and to book your vaccination, visit your local GP or pharmacy.

 

For more seniors news, click here.

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