Nearly 600,000 New Zealanders are about to get cheaper doctor visits under a new Government plan.
Starting Saturday, 540,000 Community Services Card holders will see their fees lowered by around $20 to $30 on average. At the same time, 56,000 13-year-olds will become eligible for free primary care.
- Doctors say a crisis looms due to funding and GP shortage
- Cheaper doctor visits: The Government's first broken promise?
- GP visits might not get cheaper soon after all
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she's proud of the changes, which were announced in the 2018 Budget.
"In a country like New Zealand cost should not put people off going to see the doctor when they're sick," she said on Friday.
"The Coalition Government has set out improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders and we're committed to making our country the best place in the world to be a child. Extending free doctors' visits to every child under 14, is a big step towards that goal."
Health Minister David Clark says in 2017 more than half a million people didn't go to their GP because of the cost - a "shocking" number.
"So far more than 80 percent of general practices have signed up to deliver cheaper visits for their patients," he says.
"Not only will cheaper doctors' visits mean more people will be able to afford to get the care they need, that will mean many health issues can be identified and treated early before they become major problems requiring hospital treatment."