Labour’s health promises not well targeted

August 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

is promising 1.7 million people – 40 per cent of the population – will be eligible for free doctors visits and prescriptions under a -led government.

Leader David Cunlifffe announced the plan today at his campaign launch in Auckland saying the September 20 election was about a choice between prosperity for all or only for a few.

“After another three years heading in the direction we’re heading we just won’t know this country. Our rivers will be dirty. What’s left of our assets will be sold, and so will vast tracts of our land. We will be tenants in our own country,” Cunliffe told the 800 strong audience, in a reference to the recent controversy over farm sales to foreigners.

The major package includes free doctors visits and prescriptions for almost 700,000 people aged over 65 at a cost of $120m.

This is a massively mis-targeted policy which is entirely about votes, not health.

The Ministry of Health done an annual health survey. One of their questions is whether someone has not gone to see a GP in the last year due to the cost. Here is the breakdown, in order, by age:

  • 25 – 34: 22.3%
  • 35 – 44: 17.8%
  • 15 – 24: 15.8%
  • 45 – 54: 13.9%
  • 55 – 64: 12.1%
  • 65 – 74: 6.3%
  • 75+: 4.7%

So Labour’s policy is not just slightly badly targeted – it is as far away from the area of most need as possible. They are saying we must provide free GP visits to the age group that has the least problem paying. It’s is purely about middle class welfare votes, not about health.

What about free presciptions? Here’s the breakdown by age again of those who did not get a prescription filled because of cost:

  • 25 – 34: 7.6%
  • 45 – 54: 7.5%
  • 35 – 44: 7.2%
  • 15 – 24: 6.1%
  • 55 – 64: 5.6%
  • 65 – 74: 3.2%
  • 75+: 1.9%

Also the Health Survey shows a positive trend for prescriptions, not a worsening one. The proportion of elderly not being able to afford to get their prescriptions filled dropped by a quarter to a third in the last year.

So again Labour policy is aimed at those with the least problem paying. It is a very cynical costly bribe.

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30 Responses to “Labour’s health promises not well targeted”

  1. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    Judging from Danyl’s opinion, it looks to me less like a bribe and more like an electoral tactic to drown Winston Peters in a toilet bowl. That said, I must admit to being surprised by the less than enthusiastic response given to it by otherwise would-be labour voters.

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  2. EAD (1,129 comments) says:

    So this is what politics in New Zealand has descended to?

    Who can bribe the electorate with their own money the best and convince the public they’re getting something for free?

    Whose version of socialism works better than the other one?

    Considering how close National & Labour are on on almost every policy (despite what the MSM would have you believe) this quote seems particularly pertinent – “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-08-04/institutionalized-tyranny-and-serfdom

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  3. Redbaiter (9,123 comments) says:

    “Free doctor’s visits and prescriptions”

    The use of the word “free” by politicans should be criminalised.

    If they were used car salesmen they would be prosecuted for misleading people and false advertising.

    The constant and cynical use of the word “free” by all and sundry in the political game just brings it further into disrepute. (yes I know, hardly possible, but these cynical lying frauds are doing it)

    There is enough disgust around the political process already without this kind of duplicity being pushed at voters by untrustworthy politicians and a lazy useless media.

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  4. Sporteone (43 comments) says:

    I am sick and tired of all this BS with free this and free that.

    As a single person, with no kids who owns his own business and works bloody hard, what do I get. Absolutely bloody nothing. And that goes for both parties.

    I don’t get maternity leave, well I am a man so that puts the kybosh on that, I don’t get free doctors visits, I’m either to old or not old enough, I don’t get tax rebates for my kids, I don’t have any.

    I pay my taxes the same as anyone else and surely I should be entitled to the same rebates and leave as anyone else. If you want to have a baby, then make sure you can afford to have one. I have my own medical insurance and do not use the public system. Where does my contribution go, Oh that’s right, to pay for all the free visits.

    It is about time, we see all these gifts as election-airing and nothing more.

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  5. tvb (4,432 comments) says:

    This is a badly worded question. A better question would be is the prescription charge and cost of seeing the Doctor a financial bourdon for you. The over 65s are always seeing the doctor and prescription cost money. I do not think the policy is badly targeted.

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  6. mjw (396 comments) says:

    The elderly are vulnerable.

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  7. redqueen (567 comments) says:

    It’s all just about lollyscrambling and headlines. Nothing new from the left.

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  8. Odakyu-sen (679 comments) says:

    Ah, the magic word, “Free.”

    I read somewhere that the top 3 words for attention-grabbing in a newspaper headline are “Sex,” “Free,” and
    “Win.”

    Therefore, if all three words could be combined, the all-time most attention-grabbing headline possible in the English language would be…

    Win Free Sex

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  9. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    lmao i know a dude with 9 rentals. earns about 4k a week in the hand. plus his super. he is looking forward to free doctors visits.

    what is wrong with these idiots?

    at least it will ensure winston turns feral against them.

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  10. burt (8,275 comments) says:

    People in wheelchairs get a free pony !

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  11. Neil (588 comments) says:

    When they talk about free beware. It seldom is.My feeling is that Cunliffe’s crew look ro be another dose of Labour losers in relation to economic management.
    Surely NZers are beyond the cargo cult mentality of getting something for nothing. It has to come from somewhere- from what I can see it is the productive sector and people who take a risk and a punt.Not one of the Labour/Greens etc have ever run a major body answerable to stakeholders.
    Why take a risk this time ! Labour can’t run a candy factory !!!!!!

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  12. FeralScrote (220 comments) says:

    The LabourGreen cabal ,quite happy to bankrupt the country in their lust for power.
    It`s the oldest trick in the book ,create an imaginary problem to sell an imaginary cure,lets just hope NZers are smart enough to reject these cynical charlatans on election day.

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  13. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    Oh Busby comments on the health bribes at THe Standard:

    This was Labour’s big roll of the dice.

    And free health-care for the over 65s is an incredible waste of cash. Poorly targetted, largely unnecessary, and incredibly expensive.

    It’s a naked vote grab for the vote-rich elderly demographic, subsidised by the working poor. Workers who will get their superannuation taken away from them until 67.

    Labour had a real mandate for bold change, and this is what they served up. I’m disgusted and appalled.

    This is shameful.

    How the hell can any Labour activist try and sell this to a working age person?

    http://thestandard.org.nz/labour-ready-to-win/#comment-863843

    Cynical vote targeting rather than sensible health targeting.

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  14. JC (958 comments) says:

    But when do we get the free Llama for every kiddie?

    JC

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  15. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    The free ice cream party has been very quiet. I guess they are waiting for confirmation they are a legitimate party, but it’s leaving attention seeking very late in an already crowded media market.

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  16. Nigel Kearney (1,019 comments) says:

    Agree with Dime. I know a guy who just turned 65. If he needs to check on any of his dozen or so rental properties, he can now leave his Lexus in the garage and take a bus trip on his gold card, charging the cost to people trying to raise families. Most elderly do understand that this is a policy where they go to to the doctor and their children pay for it, and the rest will catch on if it is repeated often enough.

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  17. Redbaiter (9,123 comments) says:

    If we had a media in NZ that was worth more than spit politicians would not get away with the constant use of the word “free”.

    Real reporters would pull politicians up on such obvious duplicity.

    And its not only Labour who do it. Their comrades in National do it too.

    Useless journalists let them all off the hook. Probably because they’re too dumb themselves to realise its a lie.

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  18. chris (647 comments) says:

    They also (either stupidly or intentionally) always cost their policies too low. Apparently it will only cost $171 per year per person over 65 to give them “free” GP visits, which is about 3 or 4 visits per year. I assume they’ve taken the average that a person over 65 goes to the GP per year and used that to work out the cost. The only catch is that of course GP visits will probably double for the over 65s if you make it “free”.

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  19. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    Labour’s policy is extremely well targeted.

    The majority of the baby boomers will be in the 65 years plus age group within the next ten years. They realise with age they will be facing bigger health costs, and so this policy may very well appeal to them. Old age is not something too far in the distance for them – they are reminded of it advancing at a steady pace every day.

    Unlike the other parties, Labour appears not to have forgotten that Baby Boomers make up the largest group of voters, and has acknowledged them with this policy. It was a very wise move – and some will be drawn in by it – and the fact that unlike the rest of the parties, Labour is prepared to at least make a piece meal offering to ‘those that don’t want to be forgotten’ whilst they are still alive, might be a deciding factor for some still undecided.

    Other parties are relying on the fact that the aging baby boomers will be conservative in their voting. Sadly they have forgotten to look at the history of the group – whilst old age is taking some of the steam out them, generally baby boomers have tackled many things that their ancestors wouldn’t have dreamed of doing – they are still out there sky diving, bungy jumping, and skiing (Spending the Kid Inheritance). As many authors have claimed, bb’s have been and are being a tad preoccupied with themselves – which is exactly why when someone targets a policy especially for them – they will consider it favourably, noting that have been ‘noticed’.

    (Of course there are individuals that will feel differently, I am referring to it has a generalised group, going from researched norms).

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  20. freedom101 (505 comments) says:

    I think the spending is very well targeted …. at getting votes. Never mind that the dead weight costs of the taxation to fund it will cost far more than the social benefits. There’s an election to fight, and you can always get Paul’s vote if you promise to rob Peter.

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  21. masterman (19 comments) says:

    Illness, disability, and death are universal experiences in families. The real question is not ‘if’ we will face these issues, but when in our lives, what kind of condition, how serious and for how long. It is well recognised that the early the intervention the better the outcome. It makes complete sense to have good access to medical help at the earliest onset of problems. An ounce of prevention is far better than the expensive ambulance at the foot of the cliff

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  22. Pete George (23,602 comments) says:

    @Judith

    Labour’s policy is extremely well targeted.

    The majority of the baby boomers will be in the 65 years plus age group within the next ten years.

    Unlike the other parties, Labour appears not to have forgotten that Baby Boomers make up the largest group of voters, and has acknowledged them with this policy.

    That’s the point that’s being made – while it may be “extremely well targeted” when it comes to voters it does not seem to be well targeted when it comes to use of taxpayers money and when it comes to the best health outcomes for the available money.

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  23. Judith (8,534 comments) says:

    @ Pete George (22,971 comments) says:
    August 11th, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Are any of them Pete, especially in an election year.

    Take the example of the Maternity payment (or whatever the official name is) is that a good outcome, encouraging people who cannot afford to have a baby unless they have two incomes, to go ahead and have one, just because they can get paid during the first few months? What happens after that, when the child is sick or needs attention, and the Mum has to stop work – or the family is placed under stress from the increased costs of raising a child? The family falls apart and at least part of them end up on welfare! If a couple can’t afford to have a child and support themselves in the process, then they shouldn’t damn well have one!

    The vast majority of policies, even the one being discussed, are simply ‘fetus to the grave’ care provided by the government.
    People need to be responsible for themselves. The government needs to stop playing ‘mother’, cut costs, reduce taxes, and act only when there is an unforeseen emergency.

    This policy is geared to attract votes – the same as National’s and every other party. Very few of them are good for the country. I never said Labour’s policy was a good one, only that it was a very well targeted one.

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  24. Maggy Wassilieff (413 comments) says:

    I’m working on my severe hypochondria and general malaise. I’ll be off to the doc daily if its free.

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  25. Changeiscoming (190 comments) says:

    Welfare should only be for those that desperately need it. Forcing it on the middle class most likely means there wont be enough for the ones that really need it.

    This is all big govt, small citizen stuff. The govt (and opposition) telling us they can take care of us better than what we can take care of ourselves. All freedom loving people should flat out reject vote buying, big govt polices like this.

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  26. wally (65 comments) says:

    Wait for the objections from the GPs when they analyse the policy and realise they will be expected to do more for less while being subject to fee control.

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  27. JC (958 comments) says:

    Free visits for the elderly is exactly the right thing to do..

    .. because after you win the election you implement phase two which is a surtax on savings over and above the pension.

    JC

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  28. salt (133 comments) says:

    The average number of GP visits for a 30 or 40 year old is 3 or 4, but for the over 65s is around 16 per year, IIRC. So if we stick with the proposed cost of $120m, and ignore the likelihood of free-ness increasing use (and overuse), Labour is proposing to pay PHOs around $11 extra per old person per visit. That’s a lot less than the current average 65+ person’s copay of $30.

    GPs may be publicly funded but they are private businesses who hold a lot of bargaining power, and cannot realistically be compelled to deliver more services for less income. Either the costs of this policy would balloon quickly, or they’d have to cap the number of free visits to about 4 a year – which makes it a fairly useless policy in terms of improving health outcomes for a population who already visit the GP more than a dozen times a year.

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  29. Bob (497 comments) says:

    I’m well over 65 and capable of paying for my own doctor visits and prescriptions. I don’t want taxpayers paying my bills. I believe in targeting those who do need help. Labour believes in bribing people by spreading the largesse regardless of need. Remember 2005? no student interest, family allowance? A bribe by Helen to get back in. Desperate Cunliffe is doing the same.

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  30. daniel carter (34 comments) says:

    There’s nothing wrong with free or subsidised healthcare for the elderly. For every Daddy Warbucks there’ll be several pensioners just scraping by. It’s another step to the ultimate goal of free or subsidised health care for all.

    Noting again that spending health $ on gp visits saves $$$$$ on avoided hospital beds.

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