Patient co-payments for women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia

Nicole Bates, Emily Callander, Daniel Lindsay, Kerrianne Watt

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Among Australian women, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer. The out-of-pocket cost to the patient is substantial. This study estimates the total patient co-payments for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for women diagnosed with breast cancer and determined the distribution of these costs by Indigenous status, remoteness, and socioeconomic status. Methods: Data on women diagnosed with breast cancer in Queensland between 01 July 2011 and 30 June 2012 were obtained from the Queensland Cancer Registry and linked with hospital and Emergency Department Admissions, and MBS and PBS records for the 3 years post-diagnosis. The data were then weighted to be representative of the Australian population. The co-payment charged for MBS services and PBS prescriptions was summed. We modelled the mean co-payment per patient during each 6-month time period for MBS services and PBS prescriptions. Results: A total of 3079 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in Queensland during the 12-month study period, representing 15,335 Australian women after weighting. In the first 3 years post-diagnosis, the median co-payment for MBS services was AU$ 748 (IQR, AU$87–2121; maximum AU$32,249), and for PBS prescriptions was AU$ 835 (IQR, AU$480–1289; maximum AU$5390). There were significant differences in the co-payments for MBS services and PBS prescriptions by Indigenous status and socioeconomic disadvantage, but none for remoteness. Conclusions: Women incur high patient co-payments in the first 3 years post-diagnosis. These costs vary greatly by patient. Potential costs should be discussed with women throughout their treatment, to allow women greater choice in the most appropriate care for their situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2217-2227
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Breast cancer
  • Financial toxicity
  • Patient co-payment

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