Extending free doctor visits to Children under 14, is one of several big improvements to the way people access primary health care starting 1 December 2018.
The changes are part of the Government’s Budget 2018, which will see $2.2 billion injected into the national health sector over the next four years.
They include extending free general practice visits, along with exemption from the standard $5 charge per prescription item, for children under 14.
That change, up from children under age 13, will benefit about 1760 more children in Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt with free access to doctors – provided they are enrolled at the practice.
The changes also include free visits to after-hours clinics and pharmacies, and injury-related visits covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation. .
Community Services Card holders are also set to benefit as their GP visiting fees will all be lowered to the same amount that patients experience in very low cost access practices.People with a Community Services Card (CSC) and their dependents aged 14 to 17 years who are enrolled with a general practice will pay less for their visits to see a doctor
An adult with a CSC won’t pay more than $18.50 for a standard visit with a doctor and young people aged 14 to 17 years, who have a parent or caregiver with a CSC will be charged no more than $12.50 if seen by their practice.Patients with a community services card who attend After Hours will be charged the normal co-payment (with the exception of children under 14 who will be free).
This will also cover injury-related visits such as those relevant to ACC.
Access to Community Service Cards will be extended to cover anyone getting an accommodation supplement or who is a social housing tenant – without needing to apply.
That means all up about 600,000 people around the country will have cheaper access to health care.
The majority of service providers in Upper Hutt and Lower Hutt will adopt the changes from December 1, and all will be on board from 1 January 2019.
As usual, parents are urged to first call their practice to help determine whether their child needs to be seen immediately.
Staff on the Ministry of Health’s free Healthline can also help determine whether a sick person can wait for day-time treatment rather than using the limited after-hours services.
For more information talk to your GP, your pharmacist, call Healthline on 0800 611 116or visit health.govt.nz/visiting-a-doctor.