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