As families struggle more and more to put food on the table, collecting vital prescriptions might be the casualty.
One Wairarapa budget advisor claims the Government raising prescription charges from $3 to $5 per item has added stress to already stretched budgets.
Another budget advisor says he can't see it getting any better in the short term unless the economy picks up considerably.
Wairarapa Advocacy Service advisor Trevor MacKiewicz said the Government needed to revisit the "prohibitive" charge on prescriptions.
He fears one of his clients may seriously suffer in the future because of not taking much needed medicine.
Prescription charges went up from $3 per item to $5 in January, saving the Government $40 million annually. At the time, Health Minister Tony Ryall said that money would be re-invested in public health.
Prescription charges apply for the first 20 items for an individual or family each year and no charge for subsequent items. This equates to $100 annually for every family before the exemption kicks in.
Labour's health spokeswoman Annette King has been quoted as saying pharmacists are often handed prescriptions which people don't come back to collect because they haven't got the money.
While pharmacists throughout the region say they haven't found patients abandoning prescriptions, advocates say paying for prescriptions is adding a burden to budgets.
Mr MacKiewicz said many clients were seeking help because they couldn't pay for their scripts to be filled - some were heart patients.
"Most of our clients don't have an extra $2 to pay for the prescriptions ... pharmacies don't let them tick it up because they know the client won't come back and pay ... it's just so ridiculous. Someone could die because they aren't getting the medication they need. Touch wood it doesn't happen but I fear it could in the future ... Sadly, [The Government] might do something if someone does die though."
He wants to Government to review the situation. "They knew it would cause hardship for everyone."
Masterton's Home Budget Service's Todd Button said they found one way around the situation by making small payments to pharmacies on behalf of clients needing regular medicine through their budget plan.
"They end up with a credit or with a balance that isn't too high. Credit has been established for them."
Clients were really struggling but were learning new ways of coping to keep costs down, Mr Button said. "People are adjusting to the new environment.
It is a harsh environment with inflation going up all the time ... they are getting back to gardening - setting up gardens which they haven't done before.
"A lot are giving up smoking - saying they just can't afford it anymore, that it's taking food from their children's mouths.
"It's just going to get worse and worse for them," he said.
"Our economy isn't pulling back as as fast as Australia and other places."
Grant Howard from Wairarapa Free Budget Advisory Service said many beneficiaries they were dealing with weren't getting medication their doctors had prescribed because the cost was prohibitive.
"It's just about doubled ... they aren't going back to pick [prescriptions] up," he said.
He advises clients to go back to Work and Income for extra assistance.
"They need to go back to WINZ so they can meet their new costs."
Beneficiaries and low income earners, who regularly see a doctor or require ongoing medication, are eligible for a disability allowance through Work and Income which helps pay for prescriptions and medical related costs.
Meanwhile, Wairarapa pharmacies say they don't have piles of medicines lining up on shelves waiting to be picked up.
Masterton Medical Pharmacy pharmacist Ian Harrowfield said sometimes prescriptions were dropped in and customers didn't return for them but he wasn't sure if the reason was the cost.
It's not the elderly, who tended to forget about medicines if they were left behind, but younger people, Mr Harrowfield said.
"Generally, they do come back," he said.
A prescription is valid for three months from the date it was written.
Meanwhile, Ms King told TV3 News that the prescription exemption wasn't working properly, as people needed to use the same chemist to keep the record straight.
"Thousands of New Zealanders are missing out - my suggestion is the introduction of a pharmacy card that can be used at any chemist to record transactions so that once the dispensary limit is reached, the exemption kicks in."