FAQs: Health care In New Zealand
Health care in New Zealand is world-class! In a 2019 study conducted by ID Medical, a UK healthcare recruiter, New Zealand’s healthcare system was tied with that of the UK.
New Zealand also fares well in the World Health Organisation’s rankings where it finds itself among the top 50 countries.
It should come as no surprise that many migrants who pick New Zealand lists the country’s health care as a ‘pull factor’. Especially migrants with families!
Parent or no parent though, you’re sure to have questions about New Zealand’s healthcare system.
That’s why we’ve decided to answer 8 of your most frequently asked questions today. Up first:
1. Does New Zealand have a public healthcare system?
Yes, New Zealand does have a public healthcare system. Eligible residents get free or subsidised health and disability services which include:
- Primary health care visits such as doctor’s visits.
- Prescribed medicines.
- Public hospital services.
- Support services if you have disabilities.
2. Does the public healthcare system also cover dentistry?
While dental care is free for eligible children up to the age of 18, you’ll have to pay for most dental services yourself. However, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), a government agency, will help with the cost if you need dental treatment because of an accident or injury.
Please note that free dental care for eligible children are not available through every dentist practice. You’ll have to check with your dentist if their practice offers this service.
3. Who is eligible for New Zealand’s public healthcare system?
You may be eligible for subsidised or free health care under the public system if you are:
- A New Zealand citizen or permanent resident or resident, although some exceptions do apply; or
- A work visa holder who is allowed to work in New Zealand for two years or more; or
- The holder of a work visa that allows you to work in New Zealand for two years or more when combined with time spent in the country just before getting your current work visa; or
- Under 17 and your parent or guardian is eligible; or
- An interim visa holder who was eligible immediately before you got the interim visa; or
- A refugee or protected person.
There is a chance that you’ll still qualify for public healthcare despite not meeting any of the requirements above. Please get advice from your immigration advisor or consult the Ministry of Health’s website.
4. Is private healthcare also available in New Zealand?
Yes, New Zealand does have private healthcare facilities. You’ll have to pay for healthcare services at these facilities yourself as the New Zealand government does not subsidise or pay for private healthcare services.
It is important to note, however, that you must be eligible for public healthcare in order to be allowed to take out private health insurance.
The benefits of private health insurance is that it allows you to decide how much cover you want and the type of services you want cover for. Private health insurance also means you can go to the doctor, specialist or hospital of your liking.
To compare private health insurance policies, go to LifeDirect, a New Zealand insurance comparison website.
5. Can I count on New Zealand healthcare’s system to look after my children?
Most definitely! As mentioned earlier, eligible children under the age of 18 are entitled to free dental health care. That’s not the only way the healthcare system in New Zealand looks after your children though:
- From birth to the age of 5: All children in New Zealand qualify for a free health service called Well Child/Tamariki Ora. This service gives children access to a range of health checks and provides support and advice to new parents.
- Under the age of 13: All children younger than 13 are eligible for the following free medical services:
- Immunisations against serious diseases.
- Regular eyesight and hearing checks at school.
- Visits to the doctor. Not all GPs may provide free visits, so check with your GP first.
- Basic dentistry, as mentioned.
- Under the age of 17: Publicly-funded healthcare.
6. What do I do in the case of a medical emergency?
In the unfortunate case of a medical emergency, you can either dial 111 to request an ambulance or go to the closest hospital’s 24-hour emergency department. You can get more information about when to visit an emergency department on the Ministry of Health’s website.
If injuries are sustained due to an accident, the Accident Compensation Corporate (ACC) cover will take care of most of the costs.
7. How do I find a doctor?
The good news is that New Zealand have over 35,000 GPs, so you’re sure to find a doctor in your area. Simply go to the Healthpoint website and do a search by suburb, name or service. This website also gives information about services and common treatments offered by GPs as well as referral expectations.
It’s important to know that doctors usually give priority to people who live or work in their local area, so local is always best when picking a GP.
8. How do I find hospitals in my area?
New Zealand has both public and private hospitals. You can find a hospital in your area by doing a search on the Ministry of Health’s website. Click here for public hospitals and here for private hospitals.
Go to the Ministry of Health’s website for more on health care in New Zealand…
The New Zealand’s Ministry of Health has a comprehensive website where you’re sure to find the answers to any other questions you might have. You can find the website here: www.health.govt.nz