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Half NZers don't have access to affordable dental care

Half NZers don't have access to affordable dental care

Nearly half of all New Zealanders did not receive any dental care in the last year, partly, at least, because of the cost.

Progressive leader Jim Anderton says the current economic conditions are making dental care even less affordable for New Zealanders.

“Dental health is the ‘poor relation’ of our health system. It goes under the radar screen but the human and health costs are mounting.”

Jim Anderton is planning to launch an in-depth policy document to stimulate discussion about ways to fill the dental care hole in the health system, with the release at parliament next month of research about the extent of the problem and options for solving it.

In Parliament today he asked the Government if it was satisfied that New Zealanders have adequate access to affordable dental health care.

“The Government says it is satisfied with the affordability of dental care, and only acknowledges ‘some’ can’t afford it. In fact 44% of all New Zealanders aren’t getting dental health care. That is more than ‘some.’

“The Government also believes that hospital care is an adequate backstop. But people are queuing at dawn for that care, and they can only access emergency services such as pain relief and teeth extractions. The government is minimising a serious problem and accepting third world solutions.

“If there is a single policy initiative that could make a difference to health outcomes for all New Zealanders, it would be access to affordable dental health care. Current economic conditions are putting affordable health care even further beyond the reach of average New Zealanders. We need action.

“I’ve been studying the problem, and have developed some practical options for making dental care affordable, starting with sensible, practical steps we can take straight away. I’ll be releasing that document next month.

“With up to half of New Zealanders missing out on the dental health care they need, this is not a problem that can be ignored.”

ENDS

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