New Zealand’s HealthCare System

Articles > New Zealand's HealthCare System

A study published in 2019 found that New Zealand has the 16th best healthcare system in world, putting it above countries such as Switzerland, Canada and the United States. Residents of New Zealand automatically qualify to enjoy the benefits of the system. People entering New Zealand on a work permit can join the healthcare system once they have been resident for 24 months. Before that time, they can still use the services offered but, they will need to pay for them. In the case of an accident, most injuries are covered by the Accident Compensation Scheme (ACS) which covers the cost for residents and visitors alike.

The Public Healthcare System
New Zealand’s public healthcare system is generally free as it’s heavily subsidised by the government, but there are some small costs involved and these are listed below. Some New Zealanders take out private medical insurance to cover any shortfalls in costs and to give them the option of private medical care.

Free healthcare includes: –

  • Hospital treatment, including 24-hour A & E and clinics. Cosmetic surgery and other elective surgeries are not covered.
  • Children’s immunisation schedules
  • Prescriptions for children under 13 and those with a subscription subsidy card, a high use health card or a Community Services Card
  • Prescription medication for public hospital patients – both inpatient and outpatient
  • Laboratory tests and X-rays in a public hospital – both inpatient and outpatient
  • Healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth
  • GP referrals to a public hospital for treatment
  • Check-ups and basic dental treatment for children
  • Breast screening for women aged 50 to 64
  • Acute or chronic medical conditions

Subsidised Healthcare includes: –

  • GP visits
  • Prescriptions – $5 per prescribed item
  • GP referrals to physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths
  • Ambulance services in some areas

The Private System
Many people choose to take out private medical cover to avoid the delays in referrals and operations which exist in the public health sector. Private cover can also include dental treatment which is not covered by the public healthcare system. Note that you can only take out private medical cover in New Zealand if you are eligible for public healthcare cover. If you don’t qualify for public healthcare then you must organise health insurance from your home country before you leave.

Private medical cover gives you the ability to choose your GP, specialist or surgeon and the facility in which you want to be treated. It also allows you the freedom to seek a second opinion or enjoy complimentary medicine. There are many insurance companies that offer cover. You can choose from fully comprehensive, covering everything from a GP visit, to surgery and post-operative care, to policies which cover shortfalls in the state system costs, specialist care and elective surgeries. The cost of private healthcare is relatively low compared with most of the world and is on a par with South Africa.

A Final Thought
While New Zealand has an excellent healthcare system, this exists mainly in the larger urban areas, so think carefully before you decide to live in an isolated area and leave the world behind, especially if you have children.