The New Zealand health system
In New Zealand, comprehensive life-long medical care is available to all citizens, residents and work-permit holders who have been issued with a work permit for a minimum of two years. If you meet these criteria, then your children aged 19 years or under will also be eligible for publicly funded health care. See the Ministry of Health website for more detail about eligibility.
If you are visiting New Zealand, or if family or friends are visiting, we suggest you take out health insurance. Visitors to New Zealand must pay for health services unless:
- the health services are needed as a result of an accident, or
- the visitor is a resident of Australia or Great Britain and requires urgent medical treatment.
The public health system
Essential health care is provided free for those who qualify through the public health system. Publicly funded or subsidised health care includes hospital treatment, 24 hour accident and emergency clinics, prescriptions, most immunisations, out-patient hospital care, and health care for the chronically ill and elderly. However some routine services, such as visits to local doctors and dentists, have to be either partly or fully paid for.
If you qualify for free public health care, here’s what you can expect from the country’s public health system:
- free public hospital treatment
- free treatment at public hospital 24-hour accident and emergency (A&E) clinics
- subsidies on prescription items
- subsidised fees for visits to general practitioners (GPs). You need to be registered with a primary health organisation (PHO) to get the greatest discounts
- subsidised fees for specialist care such as physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths when referred by a GP for an accident case
- free or subsidised health care for those suffering from acute or chronic medical conditions
- no charge for most laboratory tests and x-rays, except at privately operated clinics
- no charge for health care during pregnancy and childbirth, unless provided by the private medical sector
- no charge for GP referrals to a public hospital for treatment
- subsidies for children under six for visits to the doctor and for prescriptions. Most visits to the doctor and prescribed medicines for small children are free to you and
- free breast screening for women aged between 45 and 69.
In addition, New Zealand offers a private hospital system for those wanting faster treatment of non-urgent conditions. A network of private hospitals and clinics offers a range of services including recuperative care, elective procedures, and general surgical procedures through to specialist procedures such as cardiothoracic operations. There are also private radiology clinics and testing laboratories.
The private health system
You may choose to have private health insurance, to help pay for private health care and/or to meet the remaining costs of any service that is only partly publicly funded. This would allow you, for example, to bypass waiting times in the public health system for treatment of non-urgent conditions.
A number of insurance companies offer health insurance policies ranging from basic care to comprehensive cover. Policy premiums vary considerably. The Everybody website has information about health insurance. Even if you do have private health insurance, you are still entitled to free public health services which cover all accidents and emergency care. You’ll find a list of health insurance companies in the Yellow Pages under ‘Insurance – Medical’
Free Health Advice - Healthline
For free health advice and reference to local health services, phone Healthline free on 0800 611 116, anytime.
There is a list of general practitioners (family doctors), specialists, After Hours and other Medical Centres in the front section of the White Pages under ‘Registered Medical Practitioners & Medical Centres’.
Public and Private Hospitals, Residential Care Centres, After Hours Pharmacists, Registered Nurses and Midwives and Specialist Clinics are listed in the front of the White Pages under ‘Hospitals & other health service providers’.
Physiotherapists, Dentists, Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Opticians, Pharmacists and Natural Therapists are listed in the Yellow Pages.
www.healthed.govt.nz – offers easy access to brochures on health information such as immunisation. These brochures are also available in Amharic, Arabic, Burmese, Cambodian-Khmer, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Cook Islands Maori, Fijian, Gujarati, Hindi, Japanese, Kiribati (Gilbertese), Korean, Niuean, Persian (Farsi), Punjabi, Pushto Afghani, Samoan, Somali, Thai, Tokelauan, Tongan, Tuvaluan and Vietnamese
www.health.govt.nz – the Ministry of Health website offers information about all areas of the public health system. It includes links to District Health Board websites where you can find out more the services available in your area.
www.workandincome.govt.nz – the Work and Income site offers information about all benefits and allowances, including the Residential Care Subsidy and the Disability Allowance.