Get the most from your visit to the Pharmacy
Hi I am Peter, one of the pharmacists at Ahuriri Pharmacy and I wanted to share with you some secrets of getting the best out of your pharmacy. The costs of healthcare and medicines seem to be increasing all the time and it’s very important for you to get the best value out of your visits to see the doctor and pharmacist. And before you say I have a vested interest, I am a customer too and feel the pain!
One of the easiest ways to make sure that prescriptions don’t cost you more than you need to is to tell the pharmacist who is in your family. The government fund a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card (PSC) that is issued to a family once they have paid for 20 subsidised items in a year. This card limits the total family spend to $100 per year. This is not means tested and is issued by the pharmacy once the 20 item level is reached. The card can be presented at any pharmacy as proof of exemption. To ensure that get full advantage of this it is best to visit one pharmacy for your prescriptions as they then have a full medical record which allows for an enhanced level of care. If you visit many pharmacies then ensure that you get receipts for each dispensing and present these as proof once you get to 20 items.
Prescription items for doctors who are part of the PHO carry a government prescription charge of $5 and other scripts such as those from non PHO GP’s, specialists and some dentists attract a higher charge of $15. With a PSC these charges are reduced to $0 and $5 respectively.
Another way to keep costs to a minimum is to make sure that all your prescription items run out at the same time. A GP will charge you for writing a script so get as many items as you need in each visit. Your pharmacist can help you to synchronise your meds if they run out at different times.
If you pay a subsidy on some items that you get on script ask the pharmacist if there are any fully subsidised alternatives available. It is quite common for a fully subsidised pharmaceutical to be made part charged when an alternative becomes fully funded. This could save you heaps on a regular medicine.
Don’t miss out on free repeats. Some items are only able to be dispensed in monthly lots. You pay your prescription charge for the first dispensing of a subsidised med but not for repeats. Unfortunately these repeats are time limited and you only have 3 months in which to collect the entire scripts so if the slip past the date then pharmacists are not legally allowed to supply that repeat and this will attract another GP script charge and government dispensing fee.
If you have a medicine that is not subsidised then shop around for the best price as not all Pharmacies charge the same.
A Community Services Card (CSC) is very helpful. If you qualify it can help reduce your prescription charges and costs of your visits to the GP. Don’t forget to show your pharmacist your card so they can record the number and expiry date. If you are a SuperGold card holder you do not automatically qualify for a CSC as this is means tested but you do get a 10% discount on your shopping in our pharmacy.
If mobility is a problem, then check if your pharmacy offers a delivery service, this sometimes carries a small fee but in our pharmacy local deliveries are free on a Monday.
If you have your medicines packed into weekly or monthly foils there are some fees that can be saved if you are eligible for a Medicine Use Review (MUR) with the pharmacist. This is a free one to one chat about your medicines, how and when to take them and what side effects to look out for. Ask if you are eligible.
You can save money having your scripts faxed to the pharmacy if you find it a trouble to get to the surgery. There is often a small charge for this service however it is usually less than you would spend in time and fuel visiting the surgery to collect your script.
You can also get free healthcare advice by visiting your local pharmacy and for most minor self-limiting conditions it is often the most cost effective way of accessing healthcare. Rest assured that if a serious condition is considered we will send you to the most appropriate practitioner. Alternatively you can phone Healthline for free on 0800 611 116.
That’s about it for now, will be in contact again soon with other Pharmacy facts.
Keep Well, Peter