Costs of medicines
When you collect a prescription, you will have to pay part, or all, of the cost of the medicine. The government sets the basic prescription fee. There may be extra charges on some medicines or medicine brands that are not fully subsidised.
The co-payment most patients pay for their subsidised prescription items is $5. Co-payments are managed by the Ministry of Health.
Health subsidy cards
- A Prescription Subsidy Card (PSC) allows the cardholder, and named family members, to pay lower government prescription charges. People can have a PSC once the family has had 20 new prescribed items in one year (1 February to 31 January), not counting prescriptions that are free. Your pharmacy will keep count of your prescriptions. Apply through your pharmacy or GP.
- A Community Services Card (CSC) may lower the cost of GP visits and prescription charges. Any family whose income before tax is less than the amount set by the Ministry of Health and who ordinarily lives in New Zealand, can have a CSC. You can get a CSC through the Ministry of Social Development – phone 0800 999 999 or apply on the Work and Income(external link) website.
- A High Use Health Card (HUHC) lowers the cost of prescribed medicines for people who have visited the doctor more than 12 times in the last 12 months. The HUHC helps people who do not have a Community Services Card, but who have high GP and prescription costs because of ongoing health problems. Apply through your doctor. More information.(external link)
- The SuperGold Card is for New Zealand residents aged 65 or over, or people who qualify for a NZ Super or a Veteran’s Pension. The card replaces the Super Card and CSC and will note CSC entitlement on it for people who are eligible. See the SuperGold Card(external link) website for more information
Information on subsidies and co-payments
For partly-subsidised medicines, the final price you pay depends on the difference between the subsidy and the manufacturer’s price, and the size of the mark-up the dispensing pharmacy charges.
Some pharmacies charge a higher mark-up on the drugs they dispense than others. This means that the final price you pay for a prescription medicine that is not fully-subsidised may vary between pharmacies.
However, pharmacies are required to provide you with a receipt detailing the cost of the drug and the final cost to you. If you have any queries regarding the amount you are required to pay, ask the pharmacist to explain to you how the final cost is calculated.
If you are not satisfied, you can always phone another pharmacy to compare costs.
Last updated: 7 February 2020