New primary care initiatives set to significantly improve access to primary care services

News article

30 November 2018

The Ministry of Health welcomes some major changes which come into effect tomorrow (1 December) to significantly increase New Zealanders’ access to primary care services.

The initiatives extend:

  • access to low-cost general practice visits for all Community Services Card (CSC) cardholders and their dependants aged 14 to 17 years. This includes injury-related ACC visits
  • CSC eligibility to all people receiving the Accommodation Supplement or who are tenants in public housing
  • zero-fee general practice visits and exemption from the standard prescription co-payment charge (usually $5 per item) on subsidised prescription items for children under the age of 14. This includes after-hours services and injury-related ACC visits.

Uptake of the primary care initiatives has been very positive. From 1 December 2018, 82 percent of all non-very low cost access (VLCA) practices will be charging CSC holders and their dependants cheaper visits with a doctor or nurse. The fee for CSC holders is no more than $18.50 and no more than $12.50 for their dependants. 

Uptake will increase to 85 per cent of non-VLCA practices from 1 January 2019 and 86 percent by 1 April 2019. Almost all practices will be offering zero fees services to children aged 13 and under.

Improving primary care access is a priority announced as part of Budget 2018. The initiatives which come into effect tomorrow (1 December) will help improve health equity by reducing some of the financial barriers which have stopped people seeing a doctor at an early stage. 

The Ministry of Health has worked with a number of organisations to deliver the initiatives, including general practices, primary health organisations (PHOs), district health boards (DHBs), the Ministry of Social Development, Accident Compensation Corporation, and TAS (Technical Advisory Services).

Find out more about the new primary care initiatives

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