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National's health policy a return to user pays

6 September 2005

National's health policy a return to user pays

National's empty promise to do more elective surgery over the next three years will come at the expense of cheaper doctor visits for all New Zealanders, says Health Minister Annette King.

"National's plan, on their own admission, is being funded out of cuts to other parts of the health system.

"Labour has been cutting the cost of doctors' visits and prescription charges and plans to make this universal by 2007, with a subsidy of close to $27 for a visit to the doctor.

"Most of this would go under a National government. New Zealanders would have to pay more to go to the doctor under National's policy.

"It is no use simply promising to fund hospital care, if services to keep people healthy in the first place are neglected.

"The additional funding would be contestable – in other words more public money going out of the public system and into private hands.

"It is much better to stop people getting sick, rather than just hope that private hospitals can provide cover. The whole concerpt of PHOs is about working with their communities to keep people well in those communities, by tackling the causes of ill-health, particularly chronic disease. National's policy moves the strategic direction away from this."

This policy clearly signals National's intention to once again go down the user pays route in health. The only people to benefit from this approach are the private health insurance industry – already exposed as instrumental in the development of National's ACC policy.

"Under National's tax policy, two-thirds of New Zealanders will only get $10 a week or less. You won't be able to buy much private health insurance for that."

"National has already signalled greater user pays for state housing tenants – now patients face the same bleak future in health care," says Annette King.

ENDS

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