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Expectation public hospital waiting lists will just get long

January 6, 2014

Expectation public hospital waiting lists will just get longer

More than half of New Zealand adults believe public hospital waiting lists will only get longer in the future, according to research by the Health Funds Association (HFANZ) and the Private Surgical Hospitals Association (NZPSHA).

Research conducted by TNS in September found 57 percent of those surveyed believed waiting lists would be longer in 10 years, compared with only 8 percent who believed they would be shorter. Twenty-two percent thought they would be the same length, and 13 percent were not sure.

Numbers were similar among those who had health insurance and those who did not.

Most of those without health insurance – the majority of those surveyed – said they would struggle to pay for a $6000 private surgical procedure out of their own pocket. Over 40 percent said they could afford a $3000 procedure, but most could not afford anything costing more than $20,000.

The most recent HFANZ figures on the cost of surgeries shows heart operations can cost up to $57,000, with hip and knee replacements costing up to $24,000 and $28,000 respectively.

The survey said about one in five New Zealanders aged over 18 believed they would need surgery in the next five to 10 years, with age playing a major role in that belief. Those aged over 50 were the most likely to expect to need some sort of procedure.

HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said both private and public elective surgery had increased over recent years, but clearly more would be needed with our rapidly ageing population.

“Indications are future public health spending is unsustainable under present policy settings. There are options to address this, but the longer the problems are ignored, the less effective and less palatable the solutions become,” he said.

“Treasury has suggested rationing of services and increasing co-payments among other ideas to manage the issue, but in the past New Zealanders have been widely opposed to those kinds of measures.

“Patient part charges were introduced to hospitals in the 1990s by the then government and proved deeply unpopular with people. They were difficult to enforce and collect, and were subsequently dropped. They also were widely claimed to be a big part of increasing health inequalities in New Zealand,” Mr Styles said.

Both HFANZ and NZPSHA are calling this year for greater public/private dialogue around planning for future health funding in New Zealand, saying that a more collaborative approach is required to lift health outcomes.

The TNS survey involved 1830 people and had a margin of error of 2.3 percent.


For your information, the full report can be downloaded here:

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