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

Primary health care in New Zealand: who has access?

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University of Otago, Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand.



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).


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.


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.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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