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Minister looking at health insurance rebate for over 65s

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Peter Dunne
Peter Dunne

Wellington, July 9 NZPA - Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says he is considering a tax rebate on health insurance premiums for people over 65.

Speaking as leader of the United Future Party, he told a Bay of Plenty Grey Power meeting today older New Zealanders deserved a better deal in health care and he was "extremely concerned" about the high insurance costs they faced.

He said many people took out health insurance years ago to ensure they would have access to elective surgery when they needed it during their older years.

"But now, when they are likely to make most use of it, rising premium costs mean they often cannot afford to keep up their payments and so have to give up their insurance," he said.

"In my ministerial roles in revenue and health, I am currently looking at the possibility of a tax rebate for health insurance premium payments for over 65s to make it easier for them to keep their insurance."

Mr Dunne, who is also an associate health minister, said he hoped to put proposals to the Government later this year.

He also suggested in his speech that there could be a free annual "warrant of fitness" health check for people over 65, and said his party had floated the idea of a universal national health insurance scheme like those in the Netherlands and other European countries.

Mr Dunne said it was "one of the great New Zealand myths" that the social security tax introduced by Michael Joseph Savage in 1938 still existed and funded health services today.

"That tax only worked until 1946 -- in fact from 1946 onwards it had to be topped up from general taxation and the government stopped collecting it in 1964 before finally abolishing it in 1967," he said.

"So we have no dedicated tax for health care, and have not had one for almost half a century.

"The national health insurance scheme United Future is talking of is, if you like, the modern version of Savage's plan."

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