Primary health care in New Zealand: who has access?

Health Policy. 2009 Nov;93(1):1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2009.05.006. Epub 2009 Jun 16.


Objective: We examined the demographic, socioeconomic, health behaviour and health determinants of financial barriers to access to general practitioner services, prescription drugs and dental care in New Zealand (NZ).

Methods: Data from SoFIE-health, which is an add-on to the Statistics New Zealand-led Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE), were analyzed using logistic regression.

Results: Of the total of 18,320 respondents, 2845 (15.5%), 4175 (22.8%), and 1165 (6.4%), reported that they had deferred seeing their doctor/s, dentist and buying a prescription, respectively, at least once during the preceding 12 months, because they could not afford the cost of a visit or prescription. Younger age, female sex, low or middle income tertile, living in a least deprived area, having more individual deprivation characteristics (5+), current smokers, reporting high and very high levels of psychological distress and more than two co-morbid diseases were all independently associated with increased odds of deferring doctors' visits, collecting medications and dental visits.

Conclusions: Financial barriers to needed primary care exist for a substantial subgroup of people in New Zealand. A key policy lever is lowering cost barriers to make primary health care in general and dental care in particular more accessible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Young Adult