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Ministry increases funding for Under Sixes schemes

Ministry increases funding to the Very Low Cost Access and Zero Fees for Under Sixes schemes

26 August 2008

The Ministry of Health has further increased the amount invested into the primary health care sector to support the over 800 general practices/health centres charging very low fees and free healthcare to children under six.

An updated amount of an additional $2.382M will be invested into the Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) and Zero Fees for Under Sixes (Under 6s) schemes. The further increase in funding, which takes effect as from 1 July 2008, will enable participating practices to maintain and continue to provide very low fees and free services to children under six.

Providing free or very low cost access to primary health care is essential to improving the health of all New Zealanders, as well as reducing inequalities and ensuring that children have access to free healthcare early in life.


The Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) scheme was introduced in October 2006 to support, encourage and reward primary health organisations (PHOs) and their practices delivering very low cost primary health care.  From 1 July 2008, to be eligible for the VLCA payment, practices must commit to keeping their fees for standard consultations to within the following thresholds:

$0 for children under six years of age
$10.50 for children aged 6-17 years;
$16.00 for adults aged 18 and over

As at 1 July 2008, over 300 general practices/health centres around New Zealand had joined the VLCA scheme.

The Zero Fees for Under Sixes (Under 6s) was introduced in January 2008 to support free primary health care for children under 6 years of age. To be eligible for the Under 6s payment, general practices must commit to providing free standard consultations to children under six years of age and cannot already be participating in the VLCA scheme.  As at 1 July 2008, 500 general practices/health centres around New Zealand had joined the Under 6s scheme.  

This means that as at 1 July 2008, 74 percent of children under six years of age were able to access free primary health care through practices participating in either the VLCA or Under 6s schemes.  


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