Monday, April 22, 2024

Free prescriptions paying off says Health Minister

Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall says the Government’s cost-of-living policy move to make most prescriptions free in New Zealand is working, with almost three million free scripts provided to around 900,000 New Zealanders since the $5 co-payment was removed on July 1.

“I’m delighted with the early success of this cost of living measure – it’s a really simple way of ensuring Kiwi families can afford the medicine they need,” said Dr Verrall.

Latest data shows 97% of all funded prescriptions dispensed since the start of July have been free, compared to only 41% in July last year. 

“We know lots of people are finding it tough at the moment and this initiative is reducing pressure on budgets already, putting around $8.4 million dollars back into people’s pockets,” the Minister said.

“Free prescriptions is part of the Government’s 10 point plan to reduce the cost of living.  The latest New Zealand Health Survey showed that one in 30 New Zealanders had left a prescription unfilled due to cost. Now that barrier has been removed, everyone can get the prescriptions they need.

“The Government’s decision to remove the co-payment means people are less likely to get sick, less likely to live with pain and less likely to need to take time off from work for illness.

“Removing the co-payment also supports this year’s winter planning and its strong emphasis on telehealth, primary and community care meaning people can get treatment closer to where they live, when they need it, and alleviate pressure on hospitals.

“The Labour Government’s removal of prescription charges is one more practical step towards supporting all New Zealanders achieve better health outcomes,” she said.

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