Zero fee doctors' visits for children aged under 13

From July 1 2015 most general practices offer zero-fees visits to enrolled children aged under 13. Under-13s are also exempt from the standard $5 pharmacy charge for each prescription item.

General practices can choose whether or not to provide zero fees services to under-13s. Those that opt in receive an additional subsidy from the Government.

The vast majority of practices have opted into the under-13s scheme. Check with your GP to see if they’re participating.

Who is eligible for zero fees services?

From 1 July 2015 all children aged under 13, and who are eligible for publicly-funded health services, are eligible for free daytime general practice care. Ask your general practice if they provide zero-fee care for under-13s or check on your practice website.  Any child who isn’t already enrolled with a general practice can enrol for free.

What the scheme covers

The zero-fees scheme applies to a standard daytime visit to a GP or nurse at the usual practice where the child is enrolled, or to an after-hours visit to a participating clinic. It also applies to injury related visits covered by ACC.

During the day if you are not going to your regular practice you may be charged a fee. Make an appointment with your regular practice if you can.

Fees for extended consultations, procedures and extra services, such as certificates or equipment, will continue to be charged in the usual way.

Which practices offer zero-fees visits to under-13s?

General practices can decide whether they offer zero-fee visits for children under 13. Practices in the Very Low Cost Access scheme automatically provide zero fees to under-13s.

The majority of practices (96% of those with enrolled children aged 6-12) have opted into the scheme. Over 750,000 or 98 percent of children under 13 are enrolled at a general practice that has committed to providing zero-fees visits during the daytime.

If your regular practice doesn’t offer zero-fee care to under-13s, you can choose to enrol with another practice that does.

After-hours care

Your District Health Board (DHB) will ensure that children under 13 have access to zero-fee after-hours care and prescription medicines in their local area. DHBs must ensure reasonable travel time (maximum of 1 hour) to after-hours general practice and pharmacy services for 95 percent of their enrolled population. After-hours services are designed for urgent visits when the child’s regular practice is closed and where the child needs to be seen before the practice opens. Ask your general practice or pharmacist where to find these services.

Consultations covered by ACC

All general practices receive an extra funding contribution from ACC to enable them to provide free visits for injured children under 13. GPs can still choose to charge a fee, but most provide free visits for under-13s for injuries covered by ACC.

Prescription charges

From July 1 2015 the $5 charge for each item of prescription medicine no longer applies to children under 13, though pharmacies may charge for extra services such as medicines delivery or packaging. Fees for medicines that are not fully funded by Pharmac remain the same.

Check with your pharmacist about any additional fees.

Some pharmacies will provide free prescriptions after hours

DHBs will arrange for at least one pharmacy in their area to provide free prescriptions after-hours.  This service will be available to at least 95 percent of enrolled children under 13 within reasonable travel time (up to one hour).

Prescriptions from hospitals

The $5 charge will be removed from all prescriptions for children under 13, including prescriptions written by hospital specialists, dentists, nurses and other health professionals.

Where to go for advice

Talk to your general practice or pharmacist for more information. You can also get advice from a trained nurse by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116 or Plunketline on 0800 933 922.

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