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GPs propose "HPI" to index health funding

Monday, 10 December 2001

Claire Austin Chief Executive, RNZCGP

GPs propose "HPI" to index health funding

Funding of health services - and particularly primary care - ought to be indexed to a new “Health Price Index” similar to the CPI (Consumer Price Index), the organisation representing 95 percent of the country's GPs said today.

The Royal NZ College of General Practitioners has welcomed the increased funding announced today by Health Minister Annette King, but says an empirical measure of health accessibility would ensure that no one was faced with an impossible financial hurdle - or at least that if they were, health planners would be made aware of it.

College CEO Claire Austin cites recent increases in health insurance premiums as something which impacts significantly on the cost of healthcare but not on measures such as the CPI. “The cost to consumers of providing adequate healthcare for themselves and their families needs to be quantified and monitored in order to ensure people have equitable access,” Ms Austin explained. “Precisely what's measured in such an index should obviously be left to the statisticians to decide, but clearly items such as the cost of GP visits and prescriptions would need to be factored in.”

The index would then be used both as an indicator of the affordability of health to the average New Zealand family - much as the CPI measures the cost of living - as well as helping to inform government funding decisions such as those made today. “It seems logical to track movements in the cost, to the individual, of providing healthcare for themselves and their family,” Ms Austin said, “given that it is a significant item in most people's budgets, and that affordability is the largest factor governing accessibility.”

Contact: Claire Austin, CEO (04) 496-5990 or: Rex Widerstrom (04) 496-5962

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