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Affordable health care for 3 million NZers

1 July 2006
Media Statement

Affordable health care for 3 million NZers

Over three million New Zealanders are now eligible for more affordable doctors visits and prescription drugs following today’s extension of the government’s primary health care scheme, Prime Minister Helen Clark and Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

Primary health subsidies were today extended to New Zealanders aged between 45 and 64 years. The scheme is already available to every New Zealander enrolled with a Primary Health Organisation aged 65 years and over, and under 25 years.

“There are now three million New Zealanders eligible for more affordable health care through Primary Health Organisations,” Helen Clark said.

“For the 700,000 people aged 45 to 64 age group, the cost of seeing a general practitioner falls by as much as $27. The standard prescription charge they pay will fall from $15 to $3.

“On 1 July next year, the government will extend the affordable health care programme to all those aged between 25 and 44 years, meaning every New Zealander enrolled in Primary Health Organisations will be eligible for more affordable primary health care – and that's almost all New Zealanders.

"The Labour-led government is investing heavily in getting doctors' fees and standard prescription charges down. Around $2.2 billion extra is going into primary health care over the six years from 2002. Today’s extension alone will involve an investment of around $110 million over the next 12 months.

“This investment will lower the barriers many families face when they fall ill. Cost should never stand in the way of peoples' decision to see their doctor.

“International research points to better health outcomes when people seek health advice earlier. That's why we are reducing the financial barriers which may hold people back from getting that help.

“This is an investment in more affordable, more accessible health care to help build stronger families, young and old,” Helen Clark said.

Pete Hodgson said the negotiations surrounding this year's rollout have led to the future-proofing of the Primary Health Care Strategy.

"The government needed to make sure that our substantial investment in primary health care was protected against future fee rises. We didn't want to lower the cost of doctors' visits year just to see them rise again in two or three years time.

"Thanks to the hard work of GPs and District Health Boards, we can safely say that the Primary Health Care strategy is future-proofed and here to stay,” Pete Hodgson said.

ENDS

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