New Zealand’s health service performs well, but inequities remain high

Public health Health Health systems New Zealand

This article from the Professor of Health Policy and Management, Victoria University of Wellington, presents an overview and assessment of the New Zealand health system. She says New Zealand’s health care system is comprehensive and largely publicly funded and it generally performs well, but there are significant inequities in access and outcomes.

International comparisons show New Zealand’s health care is funded largely through taxation, and spends less than other countries when measured by cost per person. 

The article looks at health status, structure, funding and expenditure, performance measures, key concerns and comparison with other countries. 


New Zealand’s population is growing rapidly and ageing. Projections are that significantly more people will develop chronic conditions in future years.

Since 2001, a key focus has been on strengthening primary health care to deliver services closer to home, in community settings and with a stronger emphasis on prevention. There is, however, little evidence that primary health care is receiving a higher proportion of funding than in earlier years and doubts remain over whether we are reducing demands on hospitals as a result.

Of particular concern are the fees people must pay to see their GP and the levels of unmet need being reported as a result. New Zealand must address this issue if it is truly to encourage the development and use of primary health care services.

There are increasing signs of strain and inequities remain a real problem, both in terms of health status and access to care.

Like all countries, New Zealand must continue to work hard to support its health service and search for ways to continually ensure it provides effective services and good value for money, while working to reduce inequities. Without this, achieving the original goals of the Social Security Act of 1938 will become a distant memory.

Read the full article on The Conversation

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