The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (the Guild) is concerned that recent media coverage relating to the $2 increase in co-payment for prescriptions has left out an important message.
Patients in New Zealand pay for 20 prescription items per year, at which point a Prescription Subsidy Card is issued to them by their pharmacy and they are not charged the $5 co-payment for any further medicine prescribed to them during the remainder of the year.
“The Prescription Subsidy Card is a kind of exemption scheme, allowing patient prescriptions – including those for close family members – to be ‘counted’ through the year. Once the 20-script threshold is hit, they don’t pay for any more,” explains Guild President, Karen Crisp.
Patients who are genuinely unable to afford $100 per year for prescription medicines are able to access other support mechanisms through WINZ and some Primary Health Organisation hardship funds. Patients can ask their pharmacist for help with how to access these services.
“No patient in New Zealand should go without their medicine. The Guild believes that the failing in the subsidy card process is the lack of an automated system to recognise when patients have hit that magic number,” said Ms Crisp.
“At the moment, the onus is on the patient to keep a record, and if they visit a few different pharmacies, that record becomes hard to keep track of.
“They have to remember to take copies of receipts for their prescriptions to their usual pharmacy and that is asking too much.”
It has recently been reported that some patients are not picking up their prescriptions, some are running into debt with their pharmacies and some are only picking up some of their medicine or even reducing the doses they pick up.
“There may be a variety of different reasons that patients do not pick up their prescriptions, but financial hardship should not be one of them,” says Ms Crisp.
Media contact: Karen Crisp – 027 434 2301
• The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand (Inc) is a national membership organisation representing community pharmacy owners. We provide leadership on all issues affecting the sector and we advocate for the business and professional interests of community pharmacy.
• For additional information on the Guild and community pharmacy, please go to www.pgnz.org.nz.