An additional 600,000 lower income New Zealanders will have access to $18 doctor visits under National, as one of the dividends of a strong and growing economy.
National will also expand access to the Community Services Card to an additional 350,000 New Zealanders with low incomes and high housing costs, to ensure they can access a range of cheaper health services.
“We want to support more low income New Zealanders to access the healthcare they need, when they need it,” Dr Coleman says.
“We’ve already made sure all children under 13 have free GP visits and prescriptions. Around 1.4 million New Zealanders also have the cost of visiting their GP capped at $18 through the Very Low Cost Access scheme.
“National will build on this by introducing an $18 cap on GP visits for all Community Services Card holders.
“National will make it easier for 600,000 low-income New Zealanders to visit their GP before a condition deteriorates. This in turn will help further reduce the numbers turning up at busy emergency departments with issues a GP could have resolved.
“This change means a family of three earning up to $60,000 per year will be able to access $18 GP visits – with children under 13 still able to go for free.
“As part of this policy, National will also expand the coverage of the Community Services Card to include everyone receiving an Income Related Rent Subsidy or Accommodation Supplement.
“As well as getting access to cheap GP visits, 350,000 more New Zealanders with lower incomes and high housing costs will receive cheap prescriptions, free emergency dental care and free glasses for children through their new Community Service Cards.
“These changes will increase the total number of New Zealanders who can access either free or very cheap GP visits to 2.5 million, at a cost of $380 million over four years. The cost will be met from the 2018 Budget operating allowance.
“Our intention is to roll the policy out from 1 July 2018.
“Today’s announcement shows the benefits we can deliver through a growing economy and National’s commitment to help New Zealanders get ahead,” Dr Coleman says.