The ‘No credit, no worries’ pilot initiative now under way is making health more equitable by reducing cost-barriers that stop some people from accessing the health information they need, ‘zero-rating’ a selection of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most popular health and wellbeing websites.
The pilot project, jointly-developed by the Ministry of Health, the Health Promotion Agency and WellSouth Primary Health Network, was launched on 1 May and will run until 31 July. During this time, New Zealanders will be able to access important websites about mental health including depression.org.nz and choicenotchance.org.nz without using data on their mobile phone.
Over 85 per cent of Kiwis have access to a smartphone. Despite this, not everyone has credit on their phone. Thanks to the new pilot, people with no credit can access the zero-rated websites too.
Making health care more equitable is a key focus. The ‘No credit, no worries’ pilot complements other initiatives to improve access to health care by reducing financial barriers that have prevented some people from visiting health services.
‘No credit, no worries’ reflects the collaborative approach the health system is taking to achieve more equitable health outcomes. For example, several of the zero-rated sites empower people in Southland to engage with primary care services, including ManageMyHealth and ConnectMed, allowing them to access their medical records and book appointments.
Major initiatives launched in November 2018 mean most people who hold a Community Services Card are paying no more than $18.50 to visit their general practice, with 96 per cent of CSC holders and their dependents who are enrolled with a practice able to visit their enrolled practice at low cost. The ‘zero-rating’ pilot further improves primary care access by allowing people to interact with their general practice online without losing mobile data.
The ‘No credit, no worries’ pilot does have some limitations. It’s currently available to Spark, Vodafone, 2degrees and Skinny mobile customers, and videos viewed on websites included in the pilot initiative are not zero-rated, meaning people will use data to view these as per usual (although transcripts are included on the zero-rated webpages).
The Ministry will analyse the data and information yielded by the pilot to better understand the benefits of zero-rating access to online health resources and how a permanent zero-rating programme could be made available throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.
The zero-rated websites included in the pilot are: