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With a life expectancy of 81.6 years, New Zealand’s healthcare system is obviously doing something right. The system is publicly funded through taxation, with hospital procedures usually being fully covered and doctor’s visits partially covered, except for children under 13 who receive free visits to their doctor.
If you are a New Zealand resident or hold a valid-work visa (valid for at least two years) then you and your children under 18 years old are eligible for publicly funded healthcare. If you are in New Zealand for less than two years then private health insurance is highly recommended. There is a reciprocal health care agreement between the United Kingdom and New Zealand but it only covers immediate and necessary treatments.
New Zealand takes an interesting view on accident cover. Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is a government owned workplace accident insurance company that provides free comprehensive, no-fault personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents and visitors to New Zealand. ACC is funded through income, corporation and motor vehicle tax.
Waiting times for specialists and surgery can be lengthy which is why a third of New Zealanders opt for private health insurance instead. The not-for-profit Southern Cross Health Insurance provider is the largest supplier of private health-care in New Zealand.
Once you arrive you should register for a General Practitioner in your area. You will need to take your passport with your valid visa. The New Zealand medical council website lists all GPs, and many of the district healthboards provide a list of General Practice Fees for you to review when choosing your GP. Personal recommendations are also valuable when deciding on where you should enrol. GPs can usually see you on the same day that you make the appointment. The same applies for emergency services.
A number of medicines are subsided and there is a prescription charge of $5 for each medication. Children under 6 receive free medication and children under 13 are excempt from the prescription charge. Medicine that is not full subsidised will incur an additional cost. High medicine users who have collected 20 new prescription items in a year qualify for a Prescription Subsidy Card. This card waives the prescription charge for the rest of the year.
Dental Care is usually offered for free for those under 18 years old or residents on low-incomes and ACC helps with the cost for accidents that require dental work. Othodontic care is not free or subsidised in New Zealand. There is no fixed fee structure for dental treatment so it is best to shop around and ask for referrals.