Introduction: Medicine funding in Australia is primarily through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Although subsidised medicines are the norm, there is an increasing trend for private scripts, requiring out-of-pocket payment from patients. This is especially true for certain therapeutic areas including obesity. The aim of this patient survey was to seek patient perspectives on paying out-of-pocket for access to medicine.
Methods: An online survey was conducted in Australia of adults with obesity (n=248) in June 2015. The sample was selected from online consumer panels, with participants completing an online survey. The survey assessed current, out-of-pocket spend on weight management/medication, patient views on being offered a choice of medication even if it requires an out-of-pocket payment and their preparedness-to-pay extra for medication if required.
Results: In Australia, people currently spend an average of almost $1000AUD out-of-pocket on a broad range of weight management products with the greatest proportion of people spending money on “diet and exercise”, meal replacements and prescription medicines. When asked whether they would want their doctor to offer them the choice/option of paying privately for new non-PBS subsidised medications, only 11% of respondents did not want to be given the choice and only 15% did not think that having the option to pay privately for new non-PBS subsidised medications was a good idea. Preparedness-to-pay for weight-management medication was not impacted by income (Figure 1).
Conclusion: This survey demonstrates that patients want the ability to choose a medication even if it includes an out-of-pocket expenditure. Of special note, income was not a key determinant in preparedness-to-pay for weight-management medication. The results suggest that patient preference is for personal choice on whether they are willing to pay extra for medicine in Australia.