Zero Fees for most under 18's signed off by Board

1 December 2016

Making doctors’ visits free for 13-17year olds to reduce barriers to health care was signed off by Hawke’s Bay District Health Board yesterday. (November 30).

The proposal which will see 67.7 percent of all 13-17 year olds enrolled with a general practice able to use their GP team without charge as the district health board pays for their visits with those general practices enrolled in the scheme. The proposal is estimated to cost the district health board about $500,000.

Chair Kevin Atkinson said the Board signed off on the proposal with the commitment to review the programme after a year in the hope of extending it further.

Mr Atkinson said he was thrilled the Board was able to invest in young people in a plan that encouraged them to see and form an on-going relationship with a doctor. “We hope this investment will translate into less Emergency Department (ED) visits, less serious skin infections, a reduction in acute presentations to ED for asthma and mental health and addiction issues. Young people need to be engaged in health care and their own wellbeing -this is one way to begin the process.”

General practices could opt in or out of the zero fees subsidy programme, and those that opted in would also be signing up to providing a range of youth friendly clinical health services, staffed by health professionals who were well trained, skilled and knowledgeable in youth health and other youth health initiatives.

Mr Atkinson said initially general practices, located in low decile areas or with a high Māori and Pacific population would be targeted to enrol in the scheme. This will cover 67.7percent of all youth in Hawke’s Bay including Wairoa and Central Hawke’s Bay. We will review this in a year and based on the evaluation and review we would hope to roll this out further.

Mr Atkinson congratulated all of the work from staff that had gone into developing this scheme, which he believed was the first of its kind in New Zealand. He also wanted to acknowledge the Māori Relationship Board, which had asked for feasibility options to provide better primary care access for youth to help remove barriers to healthcare.

“We know a barrier to health, for young people, has been the cost to see a doctor – so we are taking away the barriers and building equity into who can see a doctor, he said.”

 

For further information please contact: Anna Kirk Anna.kirk@hbdhb.govt.nz Communication Manager Hawke's Bay District Health Board Telephone: (06) 873 2150 or (027) 234 3667

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