Free Condoms for all

The HoS reports:

Taxpayer-funded at supermarkets, dairies and service stations are on today’s Party agenda.

But its rainbow sector group says it should only be for “basic” condoms – meaning the subsidy would not extend to the flavoured and ribbed varieties.

That is very fiscally restrained of them – not.

Now how much will free condoms for all cost? Already Pharmac spend $1 million a year subsidising condoms (including flavoured ones) by 10%.

Now a packet of 12 condoms cost from around $17.50 to $20.00.

Monthly condom sales in April 2008 were $6.1 million – or around 200,000 packets of 12. Around 70% of those are sold in supermarkets not pharmacies.

So Labour’s free condom policy would cost, on current sales, around $73 million a year.The exclusion of ribbed or flavoured condoms won’t mean much as their sales will almost disappear if standard ones are free.

However it is inevitable that when you make something free, demand will increase. I would conservatively estimate that the $73 million cost would easily exceed $100 million a year.

The party’s rank-and-file will today vote on the proposal, which its promoters say would help cut down on unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Condoms are presently subsidised only on prescription, but the suggestion that this be shifted to retail was put forward by both the health and rainbow sectors at the party’s national conference in Rotorua yesterday.

Labour’s health spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said the party wanted to look at innovative ways of stopping unwanted pregnancies.

I’m not sure there is much innovation in saying lets make taxpayers pay for it all.

She said it was obvious the type of person who had an unplanned pregnancy did not plan to go to the doctor for contraception either, “but they might whip into the supermarket on the way out”.

Dyson said it was still a “long way off”, and had not been costed yet.

Why not? The remit I presume was known in advance? Anyway I’ve just costed it for Labour.

Personally I hope Labour do promise to spend $100 million a year on free condoms. The reaction would just be wonderful.

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