If I get a serious illness, will the government fund my medication?

Medications, particularly the ones that can save people’s lives, cost money. A lot of money. Years of research, clinical trials, and approvals put a hefty price tag on these drugs - and place them out of reach for most kiwis. 

 

Fortunately, our public health system has something called Pharmac. This is a government organisation that subsidises certain medicines and equipment, to make them affordable and available to all New Zealanders. 

 

AROUND 3.5 MILLION KIWIS USE PHARMAC-FUNDED MEDICATIONS EVERY SINGLE YEAR.*

 

WHAT DOES PHARMAC COVER?

• Community Medicines

• Vaccines

• Hospital Cancer Medicines 

• Medical Devices

 

The problem is limited resources. The government allocates Pharmac a budget each year, but obviously they can’t afford to subsidise every single medication available. Decisions are made to prioritise funding for the medications that will positively impact the most people.

 

This means a big list of medically approved, cutting edge medications aren’t subsidised. To get hold of them, we have two options:

1. Fork out the full amount ourselves (which can be very expensive); or 

2. Use private medical insurance

 

Most good insurance companies will cover the cost of non-Pharmac drugs, which can literally be the difference between life and death. However, the amount they cover can differ from $10,000 to $400,000, and $10k isn’t going to get you very far in the event of serious illness. For example – A non-pharmac melanoma drug can cost up to $150,000 per year.*

 

If you have medical insurance, that’s great. But do you know exactly what you’re covered for? And for how much?

 

If not, we can check the policy wordings for you, free of charge, so you know exactly what you’re covered for. Or, if you would like to learn a bit more about medical insurance, you can chat to one of our financial advisers. Remember, their help is free. And it’s important you sort out this stuff now, before you need it.

Jessica Smee