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.

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On DHB Deficits And Free Trade

Currently the world is looking on aghast at the Trump administration’s plans to slash Obamacare, mainly in order to finance massive tax changes that will deliver most of their gains to the wealthy. Lives will be lost in the trade-off. Millions of Americans stand to lose access to the healthcare they need.

Spot the difference with New Zealand, where DHBs are under intense pressure to reduce deficits within a climate of chronic underfunding. More>>

 
 

Greens' Response: Slum-Like Rentals Exposed In Renting Review

“...The grim findings of the review are a wakeup call about the true state of rentals in this country. Too many renters are festering in slum-like conditions under the thumb of landlords who have largely unchecked powers and ignore tenants’ complaints when it suits them.” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Life And Times Of Peter Dunne

The unkind might talk of sinking ships, others could be more reminded of a loaded revolver left on the desk by his Cabinet colleagues as they closed the door behind them, now that the polls in Ohariu had confirmed he was no longer of much use to National. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Labour’s Campaign Launch

One of the key motifs of Ardern’s speech was her repeated use of the phrase – “Now, what?” Cleverly, that looks like being Labour’s response to National’s ‘steady as it goes’ warning against not putting the economic ‘gains’ at risk. More>>

ALSO:

Lyndon Hood: Social Welfare, Explained

Speaking as someone who has seen better times and nowadays mostly operates by being really annoying and humiliating to deal with, I have some fellow feeling with the current system, so I’ll take this chance to set a few things straight.. More>>

ALSO:

Deregistered: Independent Board Decision On Family First

The Board considers that Family First has a purpose to promote its own particular views about marriage and the traditional family that cannot be determined to be for the public benefit in a way previously accepted as charitable... More>>

ALSO:

Transport Policies: Nats' New $10.5bn Roads Of National Significance

National is committing to the next generation of Roads of National Significance, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election