Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says more kids are getting the prescriptions they need following the introduction of the free under-13 policy.

"We want to ensure young Kiwis get the best possible start in life. Removing the cost barrier of prescription charges and doctor visits is having a really positive impact on many families," says Dr Coleman.

“New data from the Ministry of Health shows that the number of prescription items dispensed for those aged 6 – 12 years has increased by 19 percent between 2014 and 2016, lifting from 815,843 to 971,584.

“The increase shows that the removal of cost has improved access to medicines.

“Since the policy was introduced, children under 13 have visited their enrolled GP 14 per cent more between July and December 2016, compared with the same period in 2014.”

On 1 July 2015, all New Zealand children aged under 13 became eligible to access free visits with their enrolled general practice and after-hours services, as well as free prescriptions.

More than 99 per cent of New Zealand GP practices receive funding to make zero fees possible for under-13s.

Based on DHB reported coverage, around 780,000 children under 13 have access to free after-hours general practice visits within 60 minutes travel time.

The Government is committed to ensuring that not only do our children have the access to the care that they need but that they can also access after-hours care.

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