Essential healthcare in New Zealand is free
High quality healthcare in New Zealand is available to everyone. As you’d expect from a civilized country essential health care is provided free through the public health system to all citizens/residents. However you do have to pay for visits to local doctors and of course dentists. If you live in the UK you might be used to huge waiting lists for operations, in fact even making an appointment to see your doctor can be challenging. In the main you will find New Zealand far more relaxed and while waiting lists do exist, (and getting longer) receiving the healthcare you need is far easier.
Healthcare in New Zealand is probably a lot different to what you are used to. Generally a doctor will see you same day and many times at a time to suit you. Treatment is free at public hospital 24-hour accident and emergency (A&E) clinics. Free or subsidised health care for those suffering from acute or chronic medical conditions is available as are subsidised fees for visits to physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths when referred by your GP. Prescription items are also subsidised. If you have children under six, visits to the doctor and prescriptions are subsidised, while all schoolchildren receive basic dental care free of charge.
There is increasing demand for private surgery/healthcare in New Zealand and providers like Southern Cross Hospitals has invested many millions in state of the art facilities and surgical technology. This is a not for profit organization and works in co-operation with the public health system.
If you are a visitor it is advisable to have insurance for healthcare in New Zealand arranged before you come to NZ, as Health Insurance is generally not available unless you are a NZ Citizen/Resident or have a 2 year work permit (with at least 11 months remaining). If you are a non resident and require hospital treatment then obtaining healthcare in New Zealand could become expensive. There are insurance options available to you in NZ but they are relatively high cost.
So make sure you have adequate cover before you leave. There are downsides to healthcare in New Zealand but the chances are you’ll enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
A peculiarity of NZ is the ACC a Government body that administers New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme, which provides no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand citizens, residents and even temporary visitors to New Zealand.
The only downside to this scheme and healthcare in New Zealand is, you do not have the right to sue for personal injury. So there is no compensation culture in New Zealand.
Be aware that ACC only covers treatment and rehabilitation costs while you are in New Zealand; it is not a replacement for travel insurance and does not cover illness, disrupted travel plans or emergency travel to get you back home.
So healthcare in New Zealand a summary:
- Free public hospital treatment, including 24-hour accident and emergency (A&E) clinics
- Most laboratory tests and X-rays, unless made at a privately run clinic
- Healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth, including hospital stays and pre- and postnatal care
- Subsidised prescription medicines
- Free specialist care when referred by a general practitioner (GP)
- Free child immunisations
- Free prescription medicine for children under six and subsidised visits to the doctor
- Free basic dental treatment for school children
- Free breast screening for women aged 45 to 69