Healthcare in New Zealand

Topics: Health economics, Health care, Medicine Pages: 9 (3192 words) Published: June 13, 2013
Essay one: Choose a New Zealand social policy issue (I suggest one covered in the course). Critically evaluate how effective New Zealand’s stance has been. Make sure you use empirical resources (e.g. statistics, existing research) and sustained theoretical reflection to substantiate your conclusion. A global social policy issue is that of healthcare and it’s distribution. The structure of the New Zealand health and disability sector is currently a mixed public-private system by which the Minister of Health in conjunction with the government develops policy, supported by the Ministry and various ministerial advisory committees (Ministry of Health, 2011). Most of the day to day running and business of the health system, and around three quarters of the funding is administered by district health boards (DHBs), which plan, manage, provide and purchase health services for the population of their district (Ministry of Health, 2011). This includes funding for primary care, hospital services, public health services, aged care services, and services provided by other non-governmental health providers including Maori and Pacific providers (Ministry of Health, 2011). This brief overview of the structure of the health system shows that it is structured in a way that healthcare in New Zealand comes from a range of different corporations and distributors, both publicly and privately funded. This also infers that in order to be functional, it must be a very interactive system, in order to achieve the New Zealand Health Strategy framework for delivering health services, and achieves this through health distribution at a local and national level. This framework includes goals such as good health and well-being for all New Zealanders throughout their lives, timely and equitable access for all New Zealanders to a comprehensive range of health and disability services regardless of ability to pay, and an improvement in health status of those currently disadvantaged (Cheyne, O’Brien & Belgrave, 2005 pp. 225). This essay attempts to evaluate how effective New Zealand’s stance has been in dealing with the extensive and complicated social policy issue of healthcare through looking at essentially whether this framework has been achieved, or is working towards being achieved, and that in the current economic climate, resources contributed towards healthcare are being used in the most beneficial and productive way. Healthcare policy in New Zealand has undergone some major changes in the past few decades. Health policy before the 1990s was very localized with funding tied up in some specific areas more than others. Moreover the system had high levels of inefficiency within it, due to the growing population in some areas and migration, as well as this it was difficult to transfer funding and some parts of the health system remained seriously underfunded, particularly mental health, children’s health, and Maori and Pacific people’s health (Cheyne, O’Brien & Belgrave, 2005 pp. 214). The cost of health care was also increasing with improvements in technology and medication, which left the state unequipped and unable to afford to fund universal healthcare. Thus the 1990s created room for the influence of the neo-liberal perspective to become the main driver of health policies, making individuals take more responsibility for their healthcare (Cheyne, O’Brien & Belgrave, 2005 pp. 216). However this approach took a turn with the election of the Labour government in 1999, which began the appreciation in health policy that poor health is undoubtedly tied to socio-economic factors. This change has marked our health policy today, in which both public and private funding plays a part. Although there are still tones of neo-liberalism mixed into state policy and New Zealand society’s idea of health, which will be further discussed, there is still widespread belief that healthcare is a government responsibility even under National, which is a centre right...

References: Barnett, R & P 2004, ‘Primary Health Care in New Zealand: Problems and Policy Approaches’, Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, Issue 21. pp. 49 – 63
Cheyne, C, O 'Brien, M and Belgrave, M 2005, Social Policy in Aotearoa: A Critical Introduction, Auckland Oxford University Press.
Hansen, M, Bjerring L, Delaney, R 2012, Where Are My Taxes. Retrieved 15 of May 2013 from
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Ministry of Health 2012, Health Expenditure Trends in New Zealand 2000–2010. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation 2012, Am I Covered? Retrieved 17 of May 2013 from
Smith, J 2009, Critical analysis of the implementation of the Primary Health Care Strategy implementation and framing of issues for the next phase. Retrieved 13 of May 2013 from 7b0266/$FILE/critical-analysis-primary-health-care-strategy-sept09.pdf
Statistics New Zealand 2013, New Zealand Period Life Tables: 2010–12. Retrieved 19 of May 2013 from tables-info-releases.aspx
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