Article by
Dani Reiter
Updated
October 6th, 2019

Australian Pharmacists Empower Consumer Savings of $11 Per Year

Pharmacist vaccination services reduce costs and are easily accessed

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A recent report confirmed that pharmacists could play a greater role in alleviating some of the pressure on Australia’s healthcare system.

The Australian Insitute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report issued on September 25, 2019, found the total health spending in Australia was $185.4 billion, equating to $7,485 per person, during 2017-18.

And, the majority of health spending went to hospitals (40%) and primary health care (34%).

In a related September 25th press release, Anthony Tassone, President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Victoria Branch, said ‘empowering pharmacists to practice to their full scope would help lower healthcare costs for everyday Australians and provide better health outcomes for patients.’

Pharmacists are Australia's most accessible health professionals, helping Australians on more than 450 million occasions in 2018 alone.

“The AIHW report demonstrates out-of-pocket costs for patients to access a GP could be significantly reduced by encouraging patients to see their pharmacist for common ailments.”

"In other countries, like the UK and Canada, pharmacists are playing a greater role in their health systems helping reduce the cost for patients by up to $1 billion a year.”

"Giving pharmacists a greater role to treat common ailments, issue repeat prescriptions for stable and ongoing conditions, and administer more vaccinations, will provide better health outcomes and make accessing basic healthcare more affordable for Australian families," Mr. Tassone said.

“Reform of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) through successive Community Pharmacy Agreements with Federal Governments has helped more lifesaving treatments be listed, and also reduce the amount patients are paying for medication, saving consumers $11 a year when compared to 2007-08,” he said.

“Better using pharmacists would also mean families don’t need to pay to see a doctor every time they need to top up their prescription, get their travel vaccinations or have an upset stomach, which would provide some relief to tight family budgets,” Mr. Tassone concluded.

An example of expanding pharmacist services is related to vaccinations.

During October 2018, the NSW government announced expanded pharmacist authorizations. 

This change was in response to a nationwide poll, conducted by YouGov Galaxy, that found 64 percent of Australians support expanded pharmacist vaccinations, with 62 percent citing convenience as a benefit.

The NSW government said in a statement that ‘Grandparents and carers of young children and partners of pregnant women will also benefit from having access to the whooping cough vaccine before having contact with a newborn infant.’

Additionally, this expansion ‘may increase vaccine uptake particularly in those about to embark on overseas travel to a country where measles outbreaks are common.’

And, the Australian Academy of Science has launched a series of videos and articles in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Health to explore why measles is such a serious disease, who is most at risk, and how you can make sure you're protected with vaccination.

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The measles outbreaks during 2019 in New York City, London, and Israel have been related to international travelers bringing the contagious virus into under-vaccinated communities.

In the USA, pharmacists are often reported as the low-cost and most efficient vaccination providers.

A 2019 study found adult vaccinations at obstetrician and gynecology (OB/GYN) practices were the most expensive, as compared to other medical clinics. In addition, this study reported that OB/GYN patient counseling related to vaccines was not very successful.

OB/GYN patients declined to receive vaccines 68 percent of the time after speaking with clinic staff and learning the vaccine’s cost. 

Another study released by the Pacific Research Institute found healthcare providers and patients alike could save time and money if pharmacists were authorized to administer all vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This study found in comparison to ‘doctor practices’, pharmacies were found to administer vaccines at lower costs. The average direct costs paid per adult vaccination were lower in pharmacies compared with physician offices and other medical settings by 16-26 percent, and 11-20 percent, respectively.

Another study from UCLA says requiring health insurers to pay for adult vaccinations delivered at retail pharmacies could be the missing tactic to save lives and reduce healthcare costs. 

“Including pharmacy-administered vaccines as a covered benefit will help many adult patients who have financial constraints, transportation issues or are unable to take time off work during a doctor’s office hours,” said Dr. Ozlem Equils, a steering committee member at the Immunization Coalition of Los Angeles County and lead author of the study.

Regardless of which healthcare provider offers patients vaccination services, the CDC strongly encourages everyone to receive their annual flu shot.

The CDC says it is best to get a flu shot earlier than later during the influenza season.

Most pharmacies in the USA do offer various flu vaccines, as well as vaccines to protect people from measles, mumps, and rubella.

Vaccine financial support programs can be found at Vaccine Discounts.

Vaccine news published by Vax-Before-Travel.