Updated May 26, 2018 09:30:22The US has long been known as the most affordable system of medical care in the world, with a prescription fee of just $50 for the most common prescriptions and a monthly cap of $300.
But the US is no longer the only one with a fee for prescription renewal.
The cost of renewing a dermatology prescription in Australia is $250 for a $150,000 annual prescription, and in New Zealand, $100 for a 100-year prescription.
The new US system has come under criticism, and a review of how it operates has found it’s a “bureaucratic mess” that “raises questions about the integrity of the program”.
Australian dermatologists are already paying their own fees for their own dermatology services, and many have said they have no choice but to switch to US-style billing, as they are being required to.
“If you’re a dermatologist in Australia, you’re already paying for your own prescriptions, you don’t need a waiver,” dermatologist and author Peter Meehan said.
But a report from the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) last year found that in some cases, the US does pay for prescriptions from overseas.
“The cost of reimbursing dermatologists for prescriptions overseas is relatively high compared to that of the US, and it is not clear how the cost is calculated,” the report said.
The HELP report said the US system of billing for prescriptions abroad, where prescriptions are mailed in envelopes rather than filled out and paid in advance, raises questions about whether the US taxpayer is adequately funding the country’s dermatology programs.
“We should have an appropriate national pharmacare program that allows US physicians to prescribe overseas without fear of being charged import duties or penalties,” the HELP report stated.US dermatologists in the US and New Zealand are being asked to switch over to the new US-like billing system.
But they are not paying their full costs.
The cost for renewing an Aussie dermatology-specific prescription is $500 for a 250-year subscription.
New Zealand’s fee for a prescription is the same as in the United States.
In New Zealand’s case, dermatologists will also be required to pay for their foreign medicines abroad, but that will vary by pharmacy.
“New Zealand is a country that has an established system of national pharmacares, and we do not have a separate national pharmacy program for foreign medicine,” New Zealand Pharmacy Commissioner David Rennie said.
“So if a doctor prescribes medicine overseas, the pharmacist will have to pay it, but if they prescribe it in New York, the pharmacy will have a payment option,” Renny said.
“It is a very complex issue and it needs to be addressed.”
He said dermatologists were “disappointed” with the way the new billing system was set up and “disgusted” that they were being forced to switch.
“We are a very, very small community of practitioners who rely on the goodwill and trust of the patients that we serve,” he said.
As a result, the dermatologists could not use their own pharmacies for international prescriptions.
Australian dermatologist Professor Ian Gidley said he would be surprised if the system was a “sad, bureaucratic mess”.
“The reality is that the US has an excellent, universal system of payment for medicines overseas,” he told 7.30.
Gidley, who specialises in dermatology, said that while the US-based system would be a “huge improvement”, he believed it would be better for patients.
“You could save money and have more access to the drugs overseas,” Dr Gidly said.
He said there was a growing awareness of the problems associated with the current system.
“I’m really worried that there’s a big push from some in the industry to change it,” he added.
There are many reasons why people have chosen to switch from the current Australian system of prescription renewal to the US one, including the cost savings, easier access to foreign medicines, and the lack of the need to go to the doctor, Professor Gidys study of US medicine suggested.
Topics:health,diseases-and-disorders,health-policy,health,medicines-and_pharmaceuticals,drugs-and/or-substance-abuse,healthcare-facilities,melbourne-3000,nsw,united-statesFirst posted May 26, 2019 15:15:49Contact the ABC’s Health Unit for more health and science news.
Topics:disease-and,dental-care,dermatology,healthpolicy,federal—state-issues,government-and–politics,medical-research,healthy-health,australiaFirst posted May 26