From 1 July 2015 Waikato kids are among all kids nationwide under 13 who will get zero fees for GP visits, prescriptions and after-hours care.
The new zero fees means children under 13 years of age
- are no longer charged a fee for visits at their usual general practice where they are enrolled
- are no longer charged the regular $5 prescription fee (for fully funded medications)
- have access to zero fees after-hours care in selected clinics.
Not all GPs may provide free visits, so check with your GP first. More detailed information can be found below.
In Waikato, the after hours clinic contracted to provide free of charge for under 13s is Anglesea Accident and Urgent Medical. Others arrangements for rural areas are expected to follow.
Zero fees for under-13s
From 1 July 1 2015, all children under 13 are eligible for free general practice visits during the day from their usual general practice. There will also be free after-hours arrangements at selected locations. Under-13s are also exempt from the standard $5 pharmacy charge for each prescription item from 1 July 2015.
The Government announced in Budget 2014 that it would implement the scheme, extending the ‘zero fees’ scheme already in place for children aged under six.
The ‘zero fees’ scheme aims to improve child health outcomes by reducing financial barriers to primary health care. Improving access to primary care can reduce complications from childhood illnesses and reduce the number of children presenting to hospital emergency departments.
General practices can choose whether or not to provide ‘zero fees’ to under-13s. Those that opt in receive an additional subsidy from the Government. The vast majority of practices already provide ‘zero fees’ visits to children under six and the same is expected for the under-13s scheme.
Who is eligible for ‘zero fees’?
From 1 July 2015 all children aged under 13 are eligible for free care during the day from a GP or nurse at their usual practice. Ask your general practice if they provide zero-fee care for under-13s or check your practice website. Any child who isn’t already enrolled with a general practice can enrol for free.
What does the scheme cover?
The zero-fees scheme applies to a standard daytime visit to a GP or nurse at the usual practice where the child is enrolled, or to an after-hours visit to a participating clinic. It also applies to injury related visits covered by ACC.
During the day if you are not going to your regular practice you may be charged a fee; make an appointment with your regular practice if you can.
Fees for extended consultations, procedures and extra services, such as certificates or equipment, will continue to be charged in the usual way.
Which practices will offer zero-fees visits to under-13s?
General practices can decide whether they offer zero-fee visits for children under 13. The majority of practices are expected to opt into the scheme. Practices in the Very Low Cost Access scheme (practices that have at least 50 percent enrolled high needs population) will automatically provide zero fees to under-13s. If your regular practice doesn’t offer zero-fee care to under-13s, you can choose to enrol with another practice that does.
What about after-hours care?
DHBs will ensure that children under 13 have access to zero-fee after-hours care and prescription medicines in their local area. DHBs must ensure reasonable travel time (maximum of 1 hour) to after-hours general practice and pharmacy services for 95 percent of their enrolled population. After-hours services are designed for urgent visits when the child’s regular practice is closed and where the child needs to be seen before the practice opens. Ask your general practice or pharmacist where to find these services.
What about consultations covered by ACC?
All general practices will receive an extra funding contribution from ACC to enable them to provide free visits for injured children under 13. GPs can choose to charge a fee, but it is expected that the increased contributions will mean that most GPs provide free visits for under-13s for injuries covered by ACC.
What about prescription charges?
From July 1 2015, the $5 charge for each item of prescription medicine will be removed for children under-13, though pharmacies may charges for extra services such as medicines delivery or packaging. Fees for medicines that are not fully funded by Pharmac remain the same. Check with your pharmacist about any additional fees.
What about prescriptions from hospitals?
The $5 charge will be removed from all prescriptions for children under 13, including prescriptions written by hospital specialists, dentists, nurses and other health professionals.
Where to go for advice:
Talk to your general practice or pharmacist. You can also get advice from a trained nurse by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116 or Plunketline on 0800 933 922.