Remove prescription copayment

Removing prescription copayment collected by all pharmacies across the motu. 

Why the contribution is important

Prescription copayment presents a major barrier for medication access. By removing the prescription copayment, all people would be enabled and supported to reach the highest attainable standard of health and wellbeing. We are then empowered to exercise choice, and have access to the highest-level-medicine-related care in Aotearoa. This will reduce inequity, especially in our vulnerable populations and improve accessibility to improve health outcomes. 

Recent research by the University of Otago confirms that prescription fees are significantly increasing the number of people admitted to hospital – creating high levels of entirely unnecessary and preventable distress.

by vicky1185 on April 23, 2023 at 09:05AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 4.9
Based on: 110 votes


  • Posted by ness April 23, 2023 at 17:18

    Please remove, I love my pharmacy but can't afford copayment and I don't want to change pharmacy
  • Posted by laolao April 23, 2023 at 19:21

    This will give me the option to choose where I want to go instead of where is cheapest
  • Posted by sharon April 24, 2023 at 07:31

    please remove this charge..I want to be loyal to my local pharmacy...and not be forced to go to the cheapest...I value and want to support the pharmacy that have always been there for me.
  • Posted by Blacksands April 24, 2023 at 12:23

    The likes of Chemist Warehouse who absorb the cost of co-payment and hence offer free prescriptions are certainly putting pressure on the local pharmacies. Removal of this payment completely would certainly help level the playing field.
  • Posted by GemmaM April 24, 2023 at 16:17

    Everyone should have access to the medications they require. Let’s support our locally owned pharmacies who are passionate about supporting their communities.
  • Posted by DLineham April 24, 2023 at 16:17

    Our pharmacists are at the coal face of community health and go so far above and beyond everyday. Community pharmacies know their people and provide such important care to our vulnerable communities in times of increased isolation and an overburdened health industry. Removing the co-payment is the least the govt can do to support their amazing mahi and our local industry.
  • Posted by Kara April 24, 2023 at 16:23

    Provision of local, personalised wellbeing care delivered by respected health professionals to members of the communities they live in and represent is vital to reducing health inequities. Removing copayments enables people to access they support they need from the people they trust. Pharmacists are front line health professionals and should be enabled to focus on improving health outcomes rather than finding ways to ensure their ongoing financial survival in an increasingly capitalistic and commercialised model of 'care'. Removing copayments will help to rebalance the system.
  • Posted by HamishP April 24, 2023 at 19:08

    Let's create equity and remove collection barriers for all New Zealanders and remove the co-payment
  • Posted by zizi8862 April 24, 2023 at 20:03

    I feel like the co-payment had been made into a marketing point by some pharmacies to create confusion in the primary sector. This should be removed to enable equitable access across the whole of NZ
  • Posted by ayman April 24, 2023 at 20:03

    I totally agree, allot of prescriptions not picked up. Defintly affecting healthcare
  • Posted by Baraq April 24, 2023 at 20:09

    Please remove the copayment to ensure that post code health ceases to exist in this country, very small rural towns with very small population can’t support a discount model, therefore people will not have access to free prescriptions.
  • Posted by Adam April 24, 2023 at 20:17

    I want to keep going to my pharmacy which do so much for our communities and whanau in East Auckland - they are the best and I want to continue to support them. The charge is confusing to a lot of people and now with cost of living - it is a barrier.
  • Posted by GeorgieDRM April 24, 2023 at 20:44

    The cost of prescription medicines really adds to the dent in our wallet especially on top of paying expensive GP fees. It's not family friendly especially in this day of constantly rising living costs.
  • Posted by DNAAND April 24, 2023 at 21:42

    The copayment itself is not a barrier to access as some pharmacies choose to waive the copayment to ensure the less fortunate can still access medications.

    There are plenty of corporate pharmacies floating around that waives copays ie: countdown, chemist warehouse, bargain Chemist and for the more remote demographic, there's pilldrop, zoom and other online pharmacies to provide for this cohort.

    By waiving copayments, medications would have no monetary value attatched and this will create a downstream of unnecessary issues ie: adding to the already existing issue of medication wastage because everything is free and the govt would have to collect and make up that tax elsewhere.

    Cheers to raising the income tax by a few extra percentages and therefore increased cost of living if this nonsense gets approved. Ka pai.
  • Posted by Medicina April 24, 2023 at 21:42

    The prescription co-payment scheme is much more complex than it needs to be. It wastes more clinical time, costing more that it brings in and focuses people on the wrong aspect of their visit to the pharmacy. When they are meant to be listening to important information about the medication, they are worrying about cost. It’s ridiculous that pharmacists have to be tax collectors and explain the system every year when the subsidy card year resets.
  • Posted by aq123 April 24, 2023 at 21:53

    The prescription copayment is essentially a tax which pharmacies collect on behalf of the government yet the govt does not enforce pharmacies to do so. This creates an unfair imbalance both in the eyes of pharmacies and for patients. Please remove the copayment so that we are on a level playing field. Where cost will no longer be a barrier to funded medicines and funded medicines have the same definition regardless of which pharmacy you go to.
  • Posted by IanM April 24, 2023 at 21:57

    The key is to tackle the problem in the sector rather than being money hungry over the copays?

    If the goal is to level the playing field RE rx copays then that sounds very commercially driven and can be seen as anticompetitive behavior the ComCom should be aware of.

    There are no inequalities in access if cost is the primary issue to access, there are plenty of pharmacies that operate out of the goodness of their hearts and choose not to charge copays. Patients can have free access and most of those pharmacies that do not charge copays cater better for the community ie: longer opening hours. It's time for those traditional pharmacy owners that pay their staff peanuts to either cough up and self absorb the copays and adapt to the current playing field or be eliminated with poor staff retention and customers flocking to discounters.
  • Posted by bradical9 April 24, 2023 at 21:58

    Prescription copayments add a significant barrier to accessing Healthcare. While we do our best to accommodate those having financial difficulty, I am aware of several situations where patients have chosen not to collect some or all of their medications due to the cost and also situations where patients have been taking an incorrect dose in order to try and make their prescription last longer. The Copayment can negatively impact health outcomes, especially for those within a lower socioeconomic household. It should be removed.
  • Posted by LovelyLanny April 24, 2023 at 22:19

    Prescription copayments present a significant obstacle for vulnerable patients, it is their barrier to access necessary medications, despite Pharmac's efforts to secure reasonable prices for these medicines. Therefore, eliminating copayments would be a beneficial measure towards improving equity of healthcare access for all New Zealanders.

    Pharmacies that waive copayments as an advertisement tactic can worsen health inequity issues, particularly for patients who lack internet access, transportation, or reside in remote regions. This practice can cause confusion and mistrust among the public towards healthcare providers, as patients may wonder why some pharmacies cannot afford to waive these fees.

    Removing prescription copayments not only improves medication access, it will help reduce administrative time for pharmacists and their team and give them more time to provide additional healthcare services. Additionally, it can help reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes, particularly for low-income individuals or patients with high health needs who are most affected by copayments.

    While there may be concerns about the cost of removing copayments, the benefits of increased access to essential medications, particularly for the most vulnerable members of our community, should be thoroughly considered when assessing this issue.

    In conclusion, while there may be concerns about the cost of removing copayments, the advantages of increased access to essential medications should be thoroughly considered while assessing this issue.

  • Posted by ribeiroleigh April 24, 2023 at 22:34

    New Zealanders should be able to go to the BEST pharmacy in their area, not the one where the prescription tax is paid for them in order to entice them into a store where they will spend even more. They deserve to have the very best advice and care from committed professionals, who have the time, expertise and ethical attitude that should be provided in community pharmacy.
    This needs to be done now, before irreparable damage is done to this profession.
    Remove the copayment. New Zealanders are worth it. Invest in their health.
  • Posted by ZainabN April 24, 2023 at 22:59

    I have seen patients who come with dentist prescription who ask only the antibiotic to be dispensed and to skip the paracetamol, ibuprofen and tramadol because of the cost. That is so sad!

    Please remove the copayment and reduce these unfair barriers!
  • Posted by JaneArt April 24, 2023 at 23:02

    Let’s work on achieving true equity in our healthcare system. Remove the barriers that prevent patients ability to put their healthcare first.
  • Posted by Jo2013 April 24, 2023 at 23:05

    Removing copayment allows better health outcome for All new Zealanders. Regardless of their race or social status.
  • Posted by Slin500 April 24, 2023 at 23:07

    It is disheartening to see patients having to pick and choose what they can or can’t take home among all the essential medications they have to take on a daily basis. Definitely reduces compliance, resulting in negative impacts on their health.
  • Posted by SA April 24, 2023 at 23:21

    It's very upsetting to see inequity to medicines access has been been created by the government. Prescription charge is a tax that is collected by the pharmacy on behalf of the government. It should either be enforced nation wide or even better is to be removed.

    Patint shouldn't be forced to leave their local pharmacy that's been there for them to go a discount pharmacy to avoid this medicine tax.

    Please remove the copayment and allow patients to support their local pharmacies that know them and their medical history better than other discount pharmacies.
  • Posted by Kiwixhr April 24, 2023 at 23:36

    The concept of access to healthcare is fundamental to the idea of justice in any society. Prescription copayment presents a fundamental challenge to the realization of this justice, as it creates a significant barrier for many people in accessing the healthcare they need. In removing this barrier, we would be taking a significant step towards creating a more just society.

    At its core, healthcare is a human right that is necessary for the enjoyment of other basic rights such as the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. The imposition of prescription copayment effectively creates a two-tiered system, where those who can afford to pay for their medications have greater access to healthcare, and those who cannot are forced to forgo necessary treatments or are burdened with the additional stress of paying for medications that they cannot afford.

    Removing prescription copayment is therefore an essential step towards ensuring that all people, regardless of their income or social status, have equal access to the healthcare they need. This would not only reduce inequity but also improve the overall health outcomes of our communities. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to build a society that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of all its members, and removing prescription copayment is a crucial step in this direction.
  • Posted by Vc160 April 25, 2023 at 01:23

    I cant afford my meds at my local pharmacy so I have to travel 30 minutes by foot to a discount pharmacy. The staff there are not as personable. I think the fee needs to go across the whole country so I can go back to my local please. I feel sad for people that can't afford the fee that have to spend time like me to go to a store that doesn't charge
  • Posted by SA63 April 25, 2023 at 07:06

    I am a firm supporter of copayment removal. People should be able to make a choice of which pharmacy they go to based on past experiences with that pharmacy taking into account the personal relationships they've built over the years, rather than who charges what.
    I know many people who would rather visit their local convenient pharmacy if it wasn't for the $5 charge.

  • Posted by FB38 April 25, 2023 at 07:21

    This is a very good idea. It is important for everyone to have access to quality healthcare when they need it, not just when they can afford it
  • Posted by tesje April 25, 2023 at 07:48

    The $5 copayment IS a significant barrier to fair access to equitable health care.
    As a community pharmacy employee I see time and time again people choosing to forgo getting their medicines at all to save money. I see people not collecting their medicines on time as they can't afford the script charges so that means they make their current medicines last longer than they should by not taking them regularly - these medicines quite often include diabetic, cardiac and pain relief medicines.
    I see people asking if they can pay the cost of a script in installments over the following weeks and weeks to pay it off because they cannot afford it - my employer allows this because we want them to have their medicines and have good health by them taking their medicine.
    I have noted the old date on scripts brought in for antibiotics and other urgent sitiation medicines and had people tell me they've waited for a while to bring their script in after seeing the doctor for their problem because they wouldn't have been able to pay the script charges as well as the doctor's charges at the time.
    These are people who cannot afford to travel elsewhere to get to a discounter pharmacy that doesn't charge the script fees. They quite often can't walk great distances or afford the cost of travel.
    These are people who want to choose where they go for their pharmacy service and their care because that is their right to access and we know them so well but will hold off getting their medicines because of the cost.
    The script fees are the problem and need to be removed. The research proves it is harmful to health equity and that is the evidence to support it being removed.
  • Posted by CathK April 25, 2023 at 07:51

    I see people at my local pharmacy confused about the costs and asking questions about why they have to pay. It takes up so much time to explain. The conversations should be about medicines and health related issues. Then people would be empowered to improve their health and have more understanding of how the medicines can help them. Remove the co-payment.
  • Posted by hewan955 April 25, 2023 at 07:59

    Please remove the co-payment. Patients need it removed. Health workers should not be tax collectors. No other health professional is. Give them a break. They were the only place open in our community throughout the Pandemic. They have done it so tough. Don't force the little guys to close for these big overseas guys coming in. Our local pharmacy is the last place you can access free local health care with no appointments.
  • Posted by miPharmaly April 25, 2023 at 08:16

    Removing the co-payment would make me a happier pharmacist and as a person. I have worked many pharmacies in my career (in urban, rural, privately owned pharmacies, and big chains - countdown and chemist warehouse)

    I currently work in a local pharmacist now. My boss started his business 3 years ago. I refused to treat my patient as just another number and hence, took a massive paycut to actually serve my community in a local pharmacy. It's frustrating to see my boss to be in the crossfire with people who thinks pharmacy has been ripping people off with co-payments.

    We do free prescription so help with patient access, free delivery, price match, free vitb12 injection for our patients, free blood pressure checks, and many more. However, having the co-payment out of my bosses pockets means that there's less likely of a payrise for my ever so deserving team. Ps: my boss gets paid in salary too with lesser pay than me. From that consequence added with inflation, many of my staff has moved on or is planning to another career path. And it is honestly incredibly hard to find another candidate that has the same values and would go above and beyond for the customers in a heartbeat.

    As much as my boss and my team has so much goodness in their hearts, it can be times when it is not enough to pay the bills.

    Eventually when it is time for me to move on, I will be switching professions too. And I know many pharmacists who have already made the switch or is planning on it as well. I hate to think of what the industry will become with more pharmacist shortages. I deeply care for each and everyone of my patients and I sincerely would love to continue caring for them as a pharmacist, without feeling that I need to switch to a different profession to make a living in this current situation.

    I honestly believe removing the co-payment from all pharmacies will help repurpose the funding for other services and for my fellow colleagues so we can continue on to serve our community the best that we can.
  • Posted by JeremyG April 25, 2023 at 08:23

    Please remove prescription co-payments. They are are huge barrier to the access of healthcare and are a major contributor to health inequity. Many of the most vulnerable people in our community are having to pick and choose which medications they can afford to collect. This without a doubt will be leading to poor health outcomes and a much larger fiscal burden to our health system when patients inevitably suffer complications due to poor medication adherence. Removing the co-payment needs to happen now.
  • Posted by Aeic001 April 25, 2023 at 08:30

    We are constantly hearing about inequalities in health. Removing this barrier would drastically improve access for all - mental health patients, various ethnic groups
  • Posted by Lelili April 25, 2023 at 09:01

    Please remove $5 fee, my family and I value the service we get from small community pharmacies and pharmacists . They know us and our needs , we know them and can seek help whenever we need - from someone who understands us. We would be devastated if they are not able to survive .
    The large discounters do not give personalised service , we do not want to support them or their buy more model.
  • Posted by emmasalis April 25, 2023 at 09:25

    It’s time to go with the research, remove the copayment and improve equity!!
  • Posted by Pharm32 April 25, 2023 at 09:53

    Patient copayments should be rescinded.

    Having worked in both rural and urban setting in community pharmacy, it is clear that a lot of New Zealanders see the copayments as added barrier to healthcare. Some parents are left having to decide whether to obtain their medicines either for themselves or for their whanau, or buy groceries for their families. It is disheartening to hear how most medicines are fully funded in Aotearoa and yet, some populations cannot access basic medicines because of patient copayment.

    The removal of copayment will allow for improved access to medicines, which may in turn provide better health outcomes for New Zealanders.
  • Posted by CH April 25, 2023 at 11:24

    Please do this - it will allow small community pharmacies to remain open and therefore for pharmacy profits to remain in NZ instead of going to a large Australian company
  • Posted by Yadliks April 25, 2023 at 11:33

    I support removal of the copayment. Would benefit patients, local community pharmacies and the overall health system long term. We will regret losing all these small community pharmacies and knowledgeable pharmacists in the next decade, when will need them the most (aging population). Level the playing field. Sort the tax collection out. Be warned, make the change today or be left out tomorrow.
  • Posted by TWU April 25, 2023 at 13:03

    in the health equity and equality measures, Co-payment has created a barrier and problem for access to their medications. and also been used as a driver to drive new customers into some doors, particularly those big chain multi international chains. local pharmacies and operators has been driven out of businesses due to this, and this is not just a few. Our country, majority are small businesses who are trying to do something for their communities , their colleagues and their families, unfortunately they are all been disadvantaged due to this Co-payment issues....... I hope this issue will be heard in the high up table, and hope these elected people will look down to us and assist us !!! I believe we as operators, would love to do our best to look after the health of our community people, also with this we be able to help and raise our own colleagues future, and also be able to look after our wider families....not been forced out due to the co-payment rules!!!
  • Posted by sarahmarmoush April 25, 2023 at 14:06

    If the government goals is to achieve equity and equality then co payment must go as cost is always going to be a barrier! Good pharmacists and pharmacys need to be supported to survive, having been a customer of both local and chain pharmacies there is definitely a notable difference in service!
  • Posted by GlennWallace April 25, 2023 at 16:35

    The copayment should be removed as it has a proven limiting effect on patient access and adherence to medicines. Patients consistently have to make decisions regarding paying for medicines or paying for food etc. The money recouped from the copayment is a mere drop in the ocean when considering total health spending. If you then consider that removing the copayment would improve access and adherence... That money would surely be saved many times over with patients reducing strain on the health system as they are more adherent to preventative actions
  • Posted by jennifer1958 April 25, 2023 at 19:10

    I am currently going to those 0 dollar script fee place - I have no choice as it’s so expensive with living cost at the moment and I am retired - I would rather support my original pharmacy. They are more friendly and know me well - I go back as soon as I reach those 20 items threshold. Remove it please so I can actually interact with a pharmacist who cares and knows me
  • Posted by CW April 25, 2023 at 21:58

    I want to use my local pharmacy as I benefit from their services but I'm having to go to the free pharmacies so I can afford to do so. They don't provide care, I am just needing to use them to save myself money. I never use them to ask advice or questions as I don't really trust them. I always go to my local pharmacy for advice. I want to support them so I don't lose them so removal of the copayment would be the answer.
  • Posted by chris April 25, 2023 at 23:47

    Good pharmacists should not be discounting their professional service in return for quantity not quality!
    Removing the co-payment is the only way to save good pharmacies from closing down!
  • Posted by ryanpan April 26, 2023 at 09:24

    removing the copayment fee would improve access to healthcare epically during this cost of living crisis.
  • Posted by Kahliallan92 April 26, 2023 at 13:26

    Everyone should have access to the medications they require not just if they can afford it. Copayment should be a cost the government pays for to ensure small locally owned pharmacy’s can continue in our communities.
  • Posted by ialm001 April 26, 2023 at 15:46

    Studies have shown that removing the co-payment leads to fewer hospitalisations and better health outcomes, this will save the health sector money in reduced hospital admissions. it’s a no brainer!!!! let’s get rid of it and save money to put it to better use elsewhere. The knock on effect of this is huge.
  • Posted by llyall45 April 26, 2023 at 21:08

    prescription fees provide a major barrier for people and are inequitable because many people with limited ability to pay the charge also have the greatest healthcare need and would benefit the most from being able to choose their pharmacy provider based on other factors outside of purely cost. the nature of the charges means valuable staff time is taken up explaining and collecting them. people end up paying a large chunk of the costs all in 1 go. as the funding model does nothing to explain the system for patients it can adversely affect the patient relationship
  • Posted by LoganWebber April 26, 2023 at 21:20

    As a pharmacist, the recent waiver of prescription fees proved extremely valuable to our practice. Not having to charge patients for prescriptions freed up a lot of time usually spent on menial or bureaucratic tasks associated with prescriptions e.g. calculating script counts for exemption cards, copying scripts when patients want to hold items and get repeats instead, faffing about with a cash register when it's time for payment. This allows us to focus on what we spend all those years of study for - filling your scripts, fixing any medicine issues with the prescriber, and taking care of your health. This is not to mention the valid point many others have made about improving access to medication. I cannot urge in strong enough words the permanent removal of prescription copayments.
  • Posted by ykao0001 April 26, 2023 at 22:53

    Please remove prescription co-payments for all, people should be able to choose which pharmacy they use based on quality of service, not whether they can afford to pay for their medications or not.
  • Posted by nicparkes April 27, 2023 at 06:48

    Remove the copayment as a first step. Healthcare is inequitable.
  • Posted by MGA April 27, 2023 at 19:21

    The copayment needs to be removed to take the pressure off struggling families who often need to ‘pick’ which medicines they need and which medicines they can go without! Also, the community pharmacy model as we know it will be wiped out in a few years if this is not sorted out as the big box discounters dominate the market and force the small pharmacies who have served their communities for decades to shut their doors, this will result in a monopoly (or duopoly) just like we have now with the grocery sector who squashed the small local butchers and green grocers. In a health care setting this will have detrimental effects on the health and well being of the people those pharmacies serve and a massive healthcare bill for the government!
  • Posted by cientodoshuevos April 27, 2023 at 21:03

    I've seen arguments claiming that the push to remove the $5 copayment is driven by commercial interests. I believe that those making these claims are wilfully ignorant to the fact that the current model is already being exploited for commercially driven reasons, and left unchanged will contribute to consequences that are much more detrimental to primary health.

    Currently, waiving the co-payment is used as a loss leading strategy to entice clients into discounter doors, and buy 'cheaper' products. I am also really concerned about the well-being of pharmacists working in conditions that result in higher risk of dispensing errors and burnout due to the bombardment of scripts that this business model encourages.

    Is it appropriate to have a sector in primary health tied up in commercial strategies involving the copayment utilised with the intention of making a profit?

    Is it in the public's best interest to have health professionals working in unacceptable working conditions that have come about as a direct result of these strategies?

  • Posted by Mangpharm April 28, 2023 at 07:01

    Removing the prescription co-payment fee would allow better access to all who need their medications and put a stop to many uncollected prescriptions therefore improving healthcare
  • Posted by Georgebatch April 30, 2023 at 07:31

    Removing the copayment will result in greater value for the health system. Patients will collect their medication instead of going to the doctor and then leaving the meds at the pharmacy, which means the doctors visit was a waste of resources. Particularly important for pacific peoples I have observed.
  • Posted by Fiona April 30, 2023 at 10:00

    Many of the systems and processes around the $5 prescription co-payment (for example the prescription exemption card) are outdated, restrictive and reflects colonial legacy creating further inequity for Māori.

    Rural communities are served by amazing local community pharmacies, who are a tax collector for the government of the $5 co-payment. The “discounter” pharmacies who waive the co-payment do not see value for money in setting up shop in rural areas. This creates a massive inequity for rural patients.

    There is a fracture of care occurring. The health system is under immense pressure. Patients need pharmacists to be talking to them about their medicines and not having to take time to explain why they need to pay $5.

    I have had patients verbally abuse me and scream at me that they “have never had to pay before” and I have had to take time to explain that they always pay until they reach 20 items and that has unfortunately rolled over again. It is professionally unsatisfying to spend my time explaining a government tax.

    If it can’t be removed for all, it should be removed for rural areas, pregnant women (and postpartum care like UK), Māori, Pasifika and CSC holders, alongside this pharmacies need access to a universal medication record and ideally the payment could be added to the General Practice fee so it is collected at the time of consult payment and recouped from the Government from General Practice providers rather than from pharmacies.

    Now is the time for action. I can’t wait to see what you will do!
  • Posted by pakhin007 May 01, 2023 at 17:52

    Please remove the copayment, it allows me to stay at my own pharmacy close to my home and doesn't need to go to the free pharmacy which does not provide the same warm and patient oriented service our neighborhood pharmacy provide.
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