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Cheaper doctors visits for elderly people

29 June 2004

Cheaper doctors visits for elderly people in C&C DHB region

The cost of visiting a GP is about to fall for most people over the age of 65 living in the area served by Capital & Coast DHB – which includes Wellington, Porirua and the Kapiti Coast.

Additional funding through C&C DHB will result in a reduced patient fee for normal GP visits at almost all medical practices in the Capital & Coast DHB region, starting from Thursday of this week (July 1).

The reduced fees will apply at medical practices which are part of a Primary Health Organisation (PHO) and have been funded under the ‘interim’ funding formula. Some practices, funded at the higher level initially (‘access practices’) have already reduced fees to $20 or less and now the same funding formula for people over 65 years of age, will apply to all practices in PHOs.

When visiting a doctor who meets the above criteria, a 65-plus person who does not have a Community Services Card will save around $25 to $26 dollars per doctor’s visit. CSC holders will also benefit from reduced fees, but as there will be only one fee charged for all people over 65, the overall change for those with community services card is generally less.

“Most people in the 65-plus age group are on fixed incomes, and it’s acknowledged that the cost of visiting a doctor can act as a barrier which discourages them from seeking medical assistance,” C&C DHB Chief Executive Margot Mains said today.

“The Government has set a goal of reducing fees for people in this age group, and we are pleased to be able to deliver on that goal.

“Many senior citizens have more than one health problem, and another initiative, CarePlus, will improve the health of those people and others with ongoing health conditions.

“The CarePlus scheme will benefit people who have two or more on-going medical conditions, or who are likely to need high levels of primary-level care. These people will be offered a free assessment by a nurse or GP, and at least one other free visit plus other low cost visits, (depending on the PHO) to make sure a shared approach to care is in place and working well for them,” Margot Mains said.

In addition to this progress, the DHB is pleased to see progress towards a Karori-based PHO. If this development is successful in gaining community support and meeting the DHB and Ministry of Health requirements, it is anticipated that it may be underway by October 2004.

ENDS

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