Saturday, August 09, 2014

Pregnancy subsidies grossly under-estimated

According to the NZ Herald:
Pregnant women would get free dental care, doctors' visits and prescriptions under a Labour Government in a plan to be unveiled at the party's campaign launch.The Weekend Herald understands a primary healthcare package for pregnant women costing just over $10 million will be one of two policy announcements on the day...
The Weekend Herald understands free dental healthcare for mothers would cost about $5 million a year, free GP visits about $4 million and free prescriptions about $1 million.
Based on 62,000 annual births (5 year average to 2013) that would allow $80 per mother for dental care.

But what about the mothers who are pregnant but then have an abortion or miscarry?  There are some 14,000 abortions annually. For the period that the female is pregnant she too will qualify for the pregnancy subsidies. And

Estimates suggest that 10-20% of confirmed pregnancies result in miscarriage

So the number of pregnant women swells again to around 90,000 annually.

So let's look at the estimate for their free prescriptions, the subsidy most likely to be taken up across all pregnancies.

$1 million for 90,000 females  averages at $11.11 each. Free GP estimate allows for $44.44 each. That's one visit.

Give me a break. Even if these estimates are additional to some existing care, they are peanuts.

Oh, and forgive me for my cynicism, but free dental care provides a rather significant incentive to get pregnant. Maybe not to stay pregnant though.

And consider for a moment debt-ridden dentists. Remember what happened when ACC allowed physiotherapists to provide up to 12 'free' sessions to people ACC clients?

The most important things expectant mothers should do are give up smoking, stop using drugs, strictly contain alcohol intake, and eat well.

Personal responsibility. It isn't society's responsibility to pay for and prioritise the foetus. It is the mothers. Because only she can guarantee it will happen.


macdoctor said...

As usual, Labour also forgets the basic economic principle of Moral Hazard. As soon as doctor and dentist visits are free, the use of them increases, usually at least doubling, but often increasing by a much larger amount. If I recall correctly, physio visits increased five fold.

And what happens to the poor woman who books her dentist then miscarried before her appointment, or in the middle of her treatment?

Yet another ill-thought-out policy from Labour .

Anonymous said...

The most important things expectant mothers should do are

electorate vote National

party vote ACT or Conservatives

just like everybody else.

S Beast said...

There is already a $300 per year non recoverable dental grant for those low income earners who qualify (any portion of the grant over this amount is discretionary, but can be paid back over a 2 year period).

Just to get a check up would cost average of $80. For one filling I'd guess an average of $300+ on the cheap side.