RESPONSE TO VOTE HEALTH - BUDGET2012
Ian McPherson, CEO, Southern Cross Healthcare Group
“We are pleased to see the Government has managed to increase healthcare funding for New Zealanders. However, how our nation will fund healthcare in the future is one of the most pressing economic problems we face.
Healthcare costs are booming while economic growth is modest - this budget recognises that. Demand and costs will only rise as our population ages, and more drugs and treatment options are developed. The pool of public funds will not be able to keep pace.
As a small country with limited funds, it’s inevitable that New Zealanders will need to spend more of their own money on healthcare, whether it be for prescription costs or non-urgent elective treatment.
Admitting this won’t make anyone popular - just as we saw with the prescription cost debate last week. Unfortunately, in my view such an increase is just the start of what will likely be an on-going story. All New Zealanders need to be prepared to fund a greater proportion of their future healthcare needs – whether through saving, insurance or other options.
Given rapidly rising costs, we also strongly believe that increased collaboration between the private and public healthcare sectors will create cost savings and efficiencies.
Primary care and general practice is an area that needs continuing focus. With the right support and systems in place, this is where we can make big gains in healthcare by preventing, treating or managing the problems that can escalate to costly hospital stays.”
Southern Cross Healthcare Group is New Zealand’s largest health care organisation outside the public sector. Businesses in the group include Southern Cross Health Society (New Zealand’s largest health insurer), Southern Cross Hospitals (New Zealand’s largest private hospital network), Southern Cross Travel Insurance and Southern Cross Primary Care.