chapter  19
18 Pages

"Prioritization": Rationing Health Care in New Zealand

T he amount allocated to publicly funded healthcare for 2005/06 in New Zealand, a small coun-try of some four million people, is $NZ 9.68 billion, or 6.2% of GDP, an increase from the 5.7% of GDP in 2000/01. The Minister of Finance has recently signalled that spending in health and education has outpaced economic growth, and that the present rate of growth in health spending, which has grown at about 7% a year over the last decade, is unsustainable.1 Despite these big funding increases in recent years, the perception of New Zealanders is that the extra spending has made little difference, at least to hospital services and to people's ability to access treatment.2 In surveys, health emerges as a leading concern for New Zealanders.3 Their concern is apparently less about the quality of services, than about their ability to access treatment - whether they will be able to access timely health care when they or their family members need it.