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Elective funding ‘band-aid’ gives wrong message

Public funding for another 1800 elective surgeries is a sticking plaster approach that misses the big picture and gives New Zealanders the wrong message on future health funding, says the Health Funds Association (HFANZ).

“While this Government has done much better than the previous one on elective surgery, the reality is that there is a large and growing pool of unmet surgical need in New Zealand,” HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said today in response to the $10 million funding announcement made today by Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Mr Styles said research by TNS in September 2013 showed 280,000 New Zealanders were in need of surgery but had not received it.

“Both public and private sectors are doing more, but the demand for elective surgery will continue to grow as the population ages,” Mr Styles said.

He pointed to the Treasury’s Long Term Fiscal Statement which projected public health spending to grow from 7 percent of GDP to 11 percent of GDP by 2060 under present policy settings.

“In today’s terms, that is a funding gap of $8 billion, yet we haven’t heard a word about the policies and strategies that we need to be putting in place,” Mr Styles said.

“The one certainty is that people are going to have to pay a far greater share of their healthcare costs in the future than they do today. This means people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s need to be thinking about their future healthcare costs in the healthcare environment Treasury has described. That is one of chronic rationing, service restrictions, long public waits and user charges.”

He said other countries were grappling with policy choices in a world where healthcare demand was rising and public finances were already stretched.

“Pretending that an extra $10 million will get things sorted is not the answer. Encouraging wider public debate about some of the options and choices is probably a good start,” Mr Styles said.

ENDS

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