Your quick guide to New Zealand healthcare
Your new life in New Zealand won’t all be scenic hikes and sampling South Island wines. At some stage, you might need to visit a doctor or hospital. So just how good is New Zealand healthcare and how easily can you get access to it?
All New Zealand residents can access a safe, clean, cutting-edge healthcare system either completely free of charge, or at a very low cost with the help of subsidies from the government. If you’re involved in an accident, regardless of whether or not it’s your fault, you’ll receive completely free treatment. The relatively affordable system supports the well-known Kiwi mantra that everyone should be entitled to a “fair go”. Unlike many nations, there is no system in place to register for health services. This means that receiving treatment isn’t dependent on securing some kind of healthcare card.
Am I be eligible for free treatment?
If you are a resident, a citizen, or you hold a work visa valid for more than two years from when you first arrive, you automatically qualify for subsidised healthcare. If you are moving with children under 17, and you fall under the above visa categories, your children will also be entitled to access the subsidised system too. Although you don’t have to go through any kind of rigorous application process to access the care, it’s best to keep your official residency documentation to hand to ensure you aren’t charged wrongly. If your work visa is valid for less than two years, or you don’t fall under any of the above categories, you should expect to be billed for any treatment you receive while in the country that wasn’t an accident. To check your eligibility, visit the Ministry of Health.
Does New Zealand have an NHS?
Public healthcare in New Zealand is managed by the country’s 20 District Health Boards (DHBs). It is the job of those appointed to take the money given to them by the government and use it to provide the best free healthcare possible to the residents in its area. The DHBs own and fund all of the country’s public hospitals.
I’m ill, who do I call?
Much like here in the UK, should you have a health matter you’d like to discuss, you will need to visit a GP in the first instance. Who your GP is will be dictated by your location, and they will be able to provide treatment, or refer you to the necessary specialists. To look up which GPs are registered in the areas you’re interested in, visit the Healthpoint website, which lists every GP in the country. Bear in mind that it can be tricky to find a GP, as many will be oversubscribed and might not be taking on new patients.
Every time you visit the GP you will be charged a fee. How much this is will depend upon the GP in question.
Every time you visit the GP you will be charged a fee - how much this is will depend upon the GP in question. As fees and charges vary depending upon each practice, we always advise our readers to research the terms and conditions of a number of potential GPs so you know what to expect, and can settle on one that you can afford. If you’re aiming to keep the costs down as much as possible, opt for a GP who’s a member of a Primary Health Organisation (PHO), where costs are lower.
If you know that you’ll need to visit your GP on a regular basis, speak to them about applying for a High Use Health Card. This card offers the holder discounts on GP visits and prescriptions.
How about dental costs?
If you’re over the age of 18, you’re going to have to front the cost of your dental treatment, and just like in the UK, things can get pricey. We recommend shopping around to find an affordable dentist, or taking out a private healthcare policy that covers you for any dental costs.
Do I need private health insurance in New Zealand?
Although not necessarily a requirement, private healthcare insurance allows you more freedom and access to the most high quality and efficient healthcare.