26 Dec 2008

Unwell people avoiding treatment - survey

9:20 am on 26 December 2008

A survey suggests that people who are feeling unwell are putting off going to the doctor because they cannot afford it.

The Southern Cross Medical Care Society surveyed nearly 1500 New Zealanders in October.

More than two-thirds (71%) of the respondents said they avoided visiting a GP when unwell, specifically because of the expense. For the same reason, 22% did not take their unwell children to the doctor.

A quarter of those surveyed did not get prescriptions filled, because they were concerned that it would cost too much.

Southern Cross Healthcare Group's chief executive, Ian McPherson, says the information is cause for concern. He says early detection and treatment is extremely important in the successful treatment of many illnesses - and not getting it could make the problem more expensive to treat.

He says people need to look at their priorities, including saving in case an unexpected health problem comes up.