High awareness of free under-sixes policy

  • Brian Donnelly

Health Minister Bill English today released papers covering the work done to date on analysing and monitoring of the Government's free under-sixes policy.

"I am releasing these papers because there have been a number of requests for the work done to date. In fact, they are fairly inconclusive about the benefits of the free under-sixes policy, and largely serve to reinforce the need for a proper evaluation of it.

"A telephone survey in May and June this year showed there is high public awareness of the free GP visits (94 percent), but less people are aware that pharmaceuticals for children under six are free.

"However, only one in five respondents thought the health of their child had improved as a result of the reduced cost of visiting the GP. Most (76 percent) thought it had stayed the same.

"The Health Funding Authority is carrying out more detailed evaluation work on the policy and is due to report to the Government at the end of November.

"Child health is a priority area for the Government. The Government wants to ensure that what it spends in this area is reaching the children who most need help," said Mr English.