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Primary health money for 18 to 24-year-olds

Primary health money rolled out to 18 to 24-year-olds

Doctor visits and drug prescriptions will be cheaper for more Kiwis when the next phase of the government's primary health care programme comes into force tomorrow

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Health Minister Annette King and Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that 18 to 24 year olds will benefit from the rollout of lower cost visits to the doctor and lower standard prescription charges from tomorrow, 1 July. More than a quarter of a million New Zealanders are in this age group and enrolled with doctors in the interim PHOs, who can now access the higher subsidy.

The government is providing $17.2 million in extra funding in 2005-06 to make lower cost doctors' visits and prescriptions available to all 18 to 24- year-olds enrolled with doctors in Primary Health Organisations.

Helen Clark and Annette King say the $17.2 million is part of the $2.2 billion the Government is spending over seven years from 2002/03 to roll out the Primary Health Care Strategy, with its higher subsidies for primary health care.

"I am delighted this that group of young New Zealanders will be able to benefit from lower cost health care," Helen Clark says.

"As doctors in Primary Health Organisations sign up to the lower fees for 18 to 24 year olds, we are advised that on average the doctors' fees for this group will be reducing by around $23 to $26 a visit. Around eighty per cent of doctors practices have already signed on.

"The standard prescription charge for those enrolled with PHOs who have been paying $15 an item will fall to $3 an item.

"New Zealanders aged under 18 and over 65 are already benefiting from the lower cost care available from higher government subsidies for primary health care. In total there are now more than two million New Zealanders benefiting from the government's increased funding.

"In July next year the extra funding will be extended to 45 to 64 year olds enrolled in PHOs, and all other New Zealanders in PHOs will be funded from July 2007. This policy is working for New Zealanders even faster than we first envisaged it would."

Annette King says the new funding is expected to benefit 231,863 people aged 18 to 24 who are enrolled in interim PHOs. More than 100,000 people in the age group already get similar benefits because they are enrolled with Access PHOs.

"Improving access to primary health care for 18 to 24 year olds can have a life-long impact on health through, for example, better detection of early symptoms of mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, or sexually transmitted infections.

"The 45-64 year age group will be the next group to benefit. People in that age group suffer more from chronic diseases, are more frequent users of the health care system, and have higher rates of avoidable hospital admissions," Annette King says.

"In comparison to the 18-24 and 45-64 year age groups, those aged 25-44 years are healthier and make less use of the health care system overall. That is why this is the last age group to benefit, but the Government is very pleased they won't have much longer to wait either."

Helen Clark and Annette King say the Government is committed to making primary health care more affordable and accessible.

"We strongly believe that the best way to make real improvement in the overall health of New Zealanders is to provide access to low cost, high quality primary health care."

"We are seeing the benefits already in the wide range of innovative programmes Primary Health Organisations are developing around the country. The World Health Organisation says New Zealand is in the first division internationally in terms of primary health care. This Government will ensure New Zealand stays there."


Details of funding rollout for 18 to 24-year-olds by District Health Boards:

The numbers of Interim-funded 18-24 year olds who will be eligible to receive this higher level of funding from 1 July, by District Health Board (DHB), feature in the left hand column of the table below. The right hand column has the numbers of 18-24 year olds, by DHB, who already receive the higher level of funding.


District Health Board (DHB)
Total Interim PHOs:18-24s potential for new funding from 1 July
Totals Access PHOs:18-24s already receiving higher funding

Auckland DHB
25,594
12,741

Bay of Plenty DHB
9,127
5,717

Canterbury DHB
37,108
662

Capital Coast DHB
16,665
4,396

Counties Manukau DHB
12,636
35,027

Hawkes Bay DHB
8,897
2,409

Hutt DHB
8,669
3,673

Lakes DHB
no Interim PHOs
10,279

Mid Central DHB
11,871
721

Nelson Marlborough DHB
9,698
no Access PHOs

Northland DHB (all Access PHOs)
no Interim PHOs
12,254

Otago DHB (all Interim PHOs)
13,804
no Access PHOs

South Canterbury DHB (all Interim PHOs)
4,220
no Access PHOs

Southland DHB
9,270
108

Tairawhiti DHB (all Access PHOs)
no Interim PHOs
4,381

Taranaki DHB
6,588
2,189

Waikato DHB
19,103
9,201

Wairarapa DHB (all Interim PHOs)
2,932
no Access PHOs

Waitemata DHB
30,589
5,331

West Coast DHB (all Interim PHOs)
1,888
no Access PHOs

Whanganui DHB
3,980
1,732

Totals
232,639
110,821

ENDS

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