20 is Plenty

A survey by the University of Otago School of Pharmacy has shown that up to 60% of Dunedin people were unaware that, after paying for 20 prescription items, they become exempt from prescription charges for funded medicine.  Even fewer people were aware the subsidy applied to families as a group.

If you’ve paid for 20 prescriptions in a year (from 1 February), you won’t have to pay the $5 charge for any new prescriptions until 1 February the next year.

Who can get the subsidy

You’re eligible for a prescription subsidy once you or your family have paid for and collected 20 new prescriptions.

They must be:

  • paid for on or after 1 February in any year
  • for medicines that are funded by the government.

If you live with a partner or any dependent children under 18, their prescriptions also count towards the total of 20 you need before you can get the prescription subsidy.

Most prescriptions for children under 13 are free and don’t count towards the total.

What isn’t included

The subsidy doesn’t include:

  • any remedies, supplements or medicines that you buy without a prescription
  • any medicines that aren’t funded by the government — you still pay the full cost of these.

You can check online, or with your pharmacist or doctor to find out which medicines have extra charges.

How you get the subsidy

Your pharmacist gives you the subsidy when you visit them to get your medicine, if you’re eligible.

They check electronic records to see how many prescriptions you (and any eligible family members) have paid for since 1 February. If you have paid for at least 20 items you can get the subsidy.

Any pharmacy can check your eligibility.

Check that your pharmacist knows the names and ages of
all the people in your family

Information source – Prescription Subsidy Scheme

Article in Otago Daily Times – 1 September 2017

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