Thursday, May 11, 2023

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Boosting Australia's Healthcare System

Focussed on enhancing access to medications, improving Medicare, and supporting vulnerable members of the community, the FY24 budget places Australia’s healthcare system front and centre. In this article, we explore the implications of these changes for both individuals and businesses.

The key healthcare investments in the FY24 budget include:

  1. $5.7 billion over five years to strengthen Medicare
  2. $2.2 billion over five years to increase access to medicines via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  3. $114.1 million over 4 years for pharmacists to administer vaccines under the National Immunisation Program (limited by state-based legislation)
  4. $377.3 million over 4 years to reform Opioid Dependence Treatment (ODT) access
  5. $79.5 million over 4 years to double the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance
  6. $111.8 million over 4 years to provide electronic-prescription delivery infrastructure and services, including mandating the use of e-prescribing for high-risk and high-cost medicines subsidised under the PBS

These strategic investments aim to drive tangible initiatives that build a healthcare system poised for the future. With a focus on enhancing multi-disciplinary care, introducing new scope of practice initiatives, and bolstering nursing capacity, these investments are designed to deliver lasting results.

Improving Access for All Australians

The budget contains several measures designed to improve access to healthcare, including:

  1. Tripling the bulk billing incentives for Concession cardholders and patients under 16 years
  2. Introducing MyMedicare, a digital platform to streamline access to healthcare services
  3. Expanding telehealth and after-hours care
  4. Investing in digital health to improve care integration and communication between healthcare providers
  5. Reducing out-of-pocket medicine costs for people with certain chronic illnesses

These initiatives require effort and cooperation from various funding and service providers, with the goal of delivering value for patients, communities, and healthcare workers.

60 Day Dispensing

From 1 September, the 60-day dispensing policy will come into effect, allowing the purchase of two months’ worth of medicine for the price of a single prescription.  While this is a cost-saving win for consumers, expected to save individuals up to $180 a year, there is concern in the pharmacy industry.  Read more about how new dispensing rules could trigger insurance changes in our recent update. Following the budget announcement, we are hopeful that the details of this change can be finalised so that no patients and no pharmacists are worse off.

Cigarette and vaping laws

$234 million has been allocated to stamp out non-prescription vaping in a bid to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts, including smokers.  The crackdown measures will include:

  • Stopping the import of non-prescription vapes
  • Increasing the minimum quality standards for vapes (restricting flavours, colours, and certain ingredients)
  • Transitioning to pharmaceutical-like plain packaging
  • Reducing the permitted nicotine concentrations and volumes
  • Banning all single use disposable vapes
  • Strengthening TGA powers

Traditional smokers will have to pay as much as $10 more for a pack of cigarettes due to a 15% tobacco tax hike – with five per cent added every year for the next three years from September 1.  By 2026, a packet of cigarettes will cost around $49 – up $10 from the current price.  This will increase Government revenue by an extra $3.3 billion over the next four years.

Addressing workforce shortages in aged care

The Government’s commitment to addressing workforce shortages in the aged care sector is evident through the allocation of funding to aged care wage increases. However, immediate challenges remain that need to be addressed to ensure the sector can effectively meet the needs of Australia’s aging population.

The role of insurance in a changing healthcare landscape

As the healthcare landscape in Australia evolves and cost of living pressures continue, it is crucial for businesses and individuals to understand the role insurance plays in protecting their health and financial wellbeing. Health insurance can help to cover the costs of medical treatment and prescription medications, ensuring that individuals have access to the care they need without experiencing financial hardship.

Considering the changes announced in the budget, businesses should consider reviewing their employee health insurance offerings to ensure they are providing comprehensive coverage that meets the needs of their workforce. This may involve updating policies to reflect changes in bulk billing incentives or offering additional coverage for prescription medications.

Similarly, individuals should review their personal health insurance policies to ensure they are taking full advantage of the changes. By understanding the benefits and limitations of their coverage, individuals can make informed decisions about their health care and minimise out-of-pocket expenses.


If the outlined changes raise any concerns, we encourage you to discuss this with your insurance broker to ensure your program is fit for purpose.

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Honan Insurance Group Pty Ltd is now fully owned by Marsh Pty Ltd. To find out more, speak to your broker or read the announcement