Prescription price hike will hurt, says Labour
Tuesday 1 Jan 2013 11:04 a.m.
Individuals and families can reduce their prescription costs by using a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card
A $2 hike in the cost of prescription charges that kick in on New Year's Day will hurt those who can least afford it, says Labour.
The price public have to pay for prescriptions rises from $3 to $5, the first increase in 20 years.
Labour health spokeswoman Maryan Street says the increase may not seem like much but it will create financial stress for some.
"A $2 rise might not sound a lot, but to people on low incomes - single parents, families struggling on the minimum wage - it will have a significant impact," she said.
Prescriptions for those aged under six remain free and there is a cap of 20 items per family or individual before they become free but Ms Street says the $100 limit is steep.
"What he [Health Minister Tony Ryall] fails to acknowledge is that while he might be able to afford $100 a year on his salary - as I can - the effect of a 66 percent increase on those with little money just adds to their burden."
She says many people did not realise they can get medicines free after they reach the 20 item threshold and last year around 267,000 adults said they didn't get a script filled because of the $3 charge.
"That means some health problems are going untreated," she said.
Individuals and families can reduce their prescription costs by using a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card which once the 20-item limit is reached, means there are no more prescription charges until February 1 the next year.