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Greens launch free healthcare policy for teenagers

Greens launch free healthcare policy for teenagers

The Green Party today launched a $29 million plan to improve the health of young people aged 13-17, including making GP visits free for this group.

The plan offers free doctors’ visits and free medicine to teenagers aged 13 through to their 18th birthday, and removes a major barrier to young people accessing the healthcare they need at a crucial time in their lives.

The Green Party’s Healthy Teens, Healthy Futures package includes:
1. $21 million a year to extend free GP visits to the 290,000 teenagers aged 13-17 and abolish their prescription charges
2. A further $8 million a year (making $29 million in total) to help GPs deal with the extra workload from making visits free for 13-17 year olds
3. A commitment to a) developing new ways to deliver healthcare to teenagers, so that they can get medical advice where and how they want it, b) negotiating with DHBs and PHOs the funding necessary to make afterhours visits for all children up to age 18 free

“By extending free healthcare we send a message to teenagers that they matter at a time in their lives they really need to hear it,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“Teenagers can have complicated needs, including mental illness, and sexual health issues, which can damage them forever if left untreated, and these young people shouldn’t be written off as too expensive to help.

“There are on-going costs to the health system of not treating teenage illness. We are committed to investing in health early to avoid costs later on.

“Our plan will reduce hospital admissions, help prevent unwanted pregnancies, and give kids the support they need to help them navigate young adulthood,” said Mrs Turei.

Researchers have found that one in four teenagers put off going to see a doctor when they needed to. Girls, Maori and Pacific teens and those from poor neighbourhoods were the most likely to put off going to the doctor or receiving other healthcare.

“There are a range of reasons why young people don’t go to the doctor or see a nurse when they need to, including confidentiality concerns and cost,” said Mrs Turei.

“Young people can spend up to $56 to see a doctor now. Our Healthy Teens, Healthy Futures package removes cost as a barrier to teenagers seeing a doctor or a nurse.

“The Green Party is committed to providing free access to doctors and nurses to all children and young people, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This level of care is vital, especially for lower income working families who can’t get to the doctor during the day.

“We are committing to working with healthcare providers, when in Government, to negotiate the funding required to cope with the extra workload from free doctors’ visits, and to provide free afterhours care, without cutting back on other services.”

You can read our Healthy Teens, Healthy Futures package at www.greens.org.nz/healthyfutures

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