Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Kiwis missing out on free prescription medicines entitlement

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Kiwis missing out on free prescription medicines entitlement

Many New Zealanders are not getting free prescriptions when they should and these people are likely to include our most vulnerable, new findings from an ongoing University of Otago and Victoria University study into equity in prescription medicine use suggest.

Most people pay $3 per medicine when they pick up their prescription from the pharmacy but after paying for 20 prescription items in a year, individuals or families are supposed to be exempt from this charge.

Using anonymous data from community pharmacy computers, the research team identified individuals who had more than 20 items dispensed to them in a year and found that the majority were from the most socio-economically deprived areas. The researchers’ analysis showed that 40% percent still paid the prescription fee for 90% of the medicines they got, after they should have been entitled to the exemption.

Associate Professor Jackie Cumming from Victoria University says “In fact the average amount people paid for medicines hardly dropped at all after they reached 20 items.”

PHARMAC data shows that 180,000 people pay for prescriptions after they should be exempt. This costs patients about 2.5 million dollars a year.

Otago’s Dr Simon Horsburgh says that these data are likely to underestimate the extent of the problem because the exemption should apply after a family has had 20 items. “Neither our study or PHARMAC can identify families from the data, so these estimates are based on individuals. Because many of these people will have family members who also get prescriptions they should be receiving free prescriptions after fewer than 20 items.”

Standard charges for prescription medicines will go up from $3 to $5 in January 2013. This should mean that the maximum that families will be required to pay will be $100 per year.

However, Professor Pauline Norris says “Given that the exemption after 20 items does not seem to work in practice, people with multiple health problems, who use a lot of prescription medicines, will potentially have to pay much more than that”. She points to New Zealand and overseas studies which show that prescription charges lead to less use of medicines and poorer health outcomes.

Exemption for the prescription charges requires people to have a Prescription Subsidy Card, to have one main pharmacy, to collect receipts from any other pharmacies they visit, and take these to their main pharmacy.

“Many people may not know about the card, they might visit multiple pharmacies, or pharmacists may not be aware of family relationships. Vulnerable people, such as those with multiple health problems, the elderly and people with low health literacy may particularly struggle with these bureaucratic procedures. These are the very people who we need to ensure get the health care they need,” Professor Norris says.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Gordon Campbell: On John Key’s Trip To Iraq

In the embedded press coverage on this trip, the absence so far of any evaluation of the wider context of what New Zealand thinks it is doing at Camp Taji has been striking. More>>


Labour: Parata Puts Brakes On Charter School Appraisal

“When the Ministry of Education recommended they compare the achievements of children at charter schools to those of their counterparts at state schools, the documents show Hekia Parata specifically prohibited them from doing so." More>>


Bad Day For Universities: Gun, Bomb Threats On Three Campuses

Dunedin Police are continuing their investigation into the threat made against the University of Otago. Staff are following a number of lines of inquiry, and police are working to verify the authenticity and source of the post. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Deal Reached In Atlanta

Yes, the TPP has helped to knock a few points off the tariffs facing our exporters. Yet some of those alleged dollar gains may well have been made regardless over time – and without the negative baggage of the concessions in the non-trade areas (intellectual property, copyright extensions, investor-state dispute mechanisms etc) that the TPP deal also brings in its wake. More>> (Cartoon by Dave Wolland)

Public Summaries:


Wellington.Scoop: Serco – First The Prisons, And Now It Wants To Run The Trains

As the government continues its inquiry into Serco’s discredited administration of Mt Eden prison in Auckland, here in Wellington there’s further scrutiny of the British outsourcing company – because it’s competing to take over the running of our commuter trains. More>>


Pre-Signing: Gordon Campbell On The TPP Countdown

To date, the Key government has been unwilling to share any information about this TPP deal until it is too late for outraged public opinion to affect the outcome... the disclosure process is likely to consist of a similarly skewed and careful exercise in spin. More>>


Australia Deportations: English Relaxed On Immigration Centre Conditions

Labour's Annette King: “There have been numerous reports from inside these detention centres on just how bad conditions are... If they were being held in any other foreign jail, I imagine Mr English would be somewhat concerned. More>>


Schools: Achievement-Based Funding Would Be A Disaster

The Education Minister’s speech to the PPTA Conference raising the spectre of achievement data driving a new funding system would be disastrous, says NZEI Te Riu Roa. More>>

  • Video Out-Link - PPTA Annual Conference 2015 on Livestream (Q+A dicussion suggests funding would be directed to less successful schools.)

  • ALSO:

    ECE Report:

    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news