Call to put prescription cost increase on hold

With thousands of families already paying more than they should be for prescriptions, the Government should put its planned fee increase on the back-burner until it has a system in place to track charges, Labour's Health Spokesperson Maryan Street says.

A study by Otago and Victoria researchers has shown that many families, particularly in poorer areas and with multiple health needs, are paying more than the maximum $100 for their prescription items.

"Plans by the Government to increase the charge for each item from $3 to $5 in January will only make that worse. 

"People who go to the same pharmacy each time may know when they have hit the $100 threshold, but because no central database exists for the pharmacist to check and see if a customer is entitled to free medicines, those using a variety of pharmacies have no safeguard.

"Until a centralised system is up and running and able to be accessed by all pharmacists, so that people will not be unnecessarily forking out more for medicines they can ill afford, the Government should hold off on its planned prescription charge increase.

"If it doesn’t then we are looking at a return to the days of Jenny Shipley when some people were forced to choose between medicines and other essentials such as food.

 

“And that is something that should not be happening in 21st Century New Zealand, said Maryan Street.