A new year is upon us, and households will see some relief in early 2023 due to a number of changes that will take effect from January 1st.
Medicines will be cheaper and nursing home administration costs will be limited, thanks to federal changes designed to ease the cost pressures families face.
Other changes will result in major shifts in how COVID testing is conducted across Australia.
And, of course, many government-backed schemes have the usual inflation indexation.
From January 1st, the drug benefit plan co-payment limit for an estimated 19 million Australians will be lowered from $42.50 to $30, making medicine cheaper.
The non-concessional payment will save $12.50 on the price of PBS medicines over current general copays.
A more generous discount scheme will also be implemented, allowing pharmacies to discount medicines with dispensing prices between $30 and $45.60 at any price at their discretion.
This change will cost the federal budget $787 million over the next four years.
Check this link for a list of all medicines in PBS.
Nursing home package reform
The government has moved to limit the range of home care package rates providers can charge Australian seniors.
Effective January 1, providers can no longer charge care management more than 20% of the total package cost and can no longer charge package management more than 15%.
These changes also prevent providers from charging unsubscribing fees or package management fees for months in which recipients do not receive services other than care management.
Aged care providers are also now prohibited from charging their clients brokerage or subcontracting fees.
More information about the changes is available from the Health Department at this link.
Changes to COVID testing
From 1st January, there will be significant changes to how Australians are tested for COVID.
PCR testing is no longer free and is only available with a Medicare referral from a doctor or nurse. This change applies to federally operated PCR clinics. Many state and territory operated clinics will continue to offer PCR testing without a referral.
Vulnerable Australians and Indigenous Peoples will be prioritized for PCR testing.
income support price index
Various federal income assistance programs have increased payments in line with January 1st inflation, helping recipients keep up with rapidly rising prices.
Youth Benefits, Austudy, Abstudy, Disability Assistance Pensions and Caregiver Payments will all rise.
Salary increases range from $20 to over $90 per two weeks, depending on qualifications and individual income situation.
The income standards and tests for these programs have also been adjusted for New Year’s inflation.
A complete list of income support changes, including dollar increases, is available at this link.