Prescription charges and the prescription subsidy scheme

Many medicines in New Zealand are subsidised by the Government.

From 1 July 2023, people will no longer have to pay the standard $5 prescription charge (prescriptions are already free for children aged 13 and under).

This applies to $5 co-payments for prescriptions by approved providers. Prescriptions from specialists and non-publicly funded prescribers will still attract a $15 co-payment.

These prescriptions with a $15 co-payment will count towards the 20 prescription items a patient or family collect in a year. Once a person or family reach 20 prescription items in a year, they can get a Prescription Subsidy Card, which means they will not have to pay any more prescription charges until 1 February the following year. 

Pharmacies may charge for extra services such as medicines delivery or packaging. There may be an additional cost if a prescription medicine is not fully subsidised. Fees for medicines that are not fully funded by PHARMAC remain the same.

For further information talk to your general practice or pharmacist.

Prescription subsidy scheme

The subsidy is aimed at reducing costs for families and people who are prescribed a lot of medicines.

You become eligible for the subsidy once you have paid for 20 prescription items from 1 February each year. Once you're eligible, you do not have to pay any more prescription charges for the rest of that year (to 31 January).

You can reach the 20-item threshold by combining prescription items for your partner and dependent children aged from 14 up to 18.

Just tell your regular pharmacist the names of all the people in your family to help them keep track of how many items you've paid for.

This information is gathered electronically so you no longer need to keep your receipts.

Please note, as there is no prescription charge on items for children aged 13 and under, these items cannot be counted as part of the 20-item threshold.

Qualifying for a prescription subsidy

Talk to your pharmacist and make sure he or she knows the names and ages of all the people in your family.

Your pharmacist will check the electronic records to see how many prescriptions you (and any eligible family members) have paid for since 1 February and if the total is 20 or more you’ll qualify for a prescription subsidy.

 Any pharmacy can check your eligibility.

Are there any other charges for my medicine?

As not all medicines are funded, discuss any questions you have about prescription charges with your pharmacist.


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