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Healthcare in New Zealand

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In short, New Zealand does not have a National Health Service (Darn!) All though it is partially funded by tax payer’s but it is just not open to all. If you hold a Work Visa of any kind in order to benefit from some medical rights you need to of spent a minimum of 2 years or more in NZ, however if the head of the family is the main ‘migrant’(A term we do not like to use but it is in the immigration of NZ literature!), then all of the family and children under 19 years can avail the health and medical facilities in the country.

However NZ does treat everybody who has a injury as a result of “accident” (Not just car accidents), even if you are a tourist visiting for a day! This is subsided by the Accident Compensation Corporation, (ACC) you will find that if you work a small amount of your wages are taken out to cover this system. If you ask a Kiwi about the health care system in NZ most will tell you they have also have Private Health Insurance. Even though most of the treatments are free, NZ has a bad reputation for waiting times. (We are told waiting times for non urgent surgery can be up to a year).

The private hospitals are preferred by those who want to have control of the treatment options and the services in private hospitals are faster than the government ones (Just like anywhere, pay the $ you jump the queue). It is known that more than one thirds of New Zealanders have private health insurance and one half of elective surgery in NZ is treated privately.

Resident of NZ

If you are resident of NZ (for two years of more) or a returning citizen you can buy medical insurance, there are companies that offer partial private hospital cover that allows people to get treated in private hospitals in certain conditions. This helps in saving their time and they can opt for the kind or level of treatment they want.

Are you a resident or citizen looking for tips on Medical Insurance? Check our article here on this topic!

The Local Doctors:

The local doctors system in NZ is very identical to the one in UK. You have to register here with your nearest medical practitioner. They are also your first point of contact for any treatment. It is free to register with a GP. You need to make appointment with the doctor before you can go there. Visiting the local doctors does however costs money. For the first visit you have to pay about $60 which goes down to $40 subsequently. But this does vary from area to area. We signed up to the one near us it cost $27 for your first visit and then $17 after. People did tell us that people drive from over the shore (North Shore city, over the bridge) to southern Auckland just to visit the doctor who is the cheapest!


Visit’s at weekends also may cost more. However if you join the Primary Health Organisation (PHO) which is government funded and free to join you can get care at a lower price. It does take a few months for your application to get submitted but in the long term is it definitely worth doing! One time prescription costs just about $5 in order to get a supply for 3 months(free to those under 6). But, the cost of prescription form on your first visit is about $18.

The information about finding your nearest doctors and how to register with them can be found here, we suggest you search by area and then call around and find the cheapest… In short public healthcare is free in these instances:

  • Emergency hospital treatment; (Accidents)
  • Children’s immunizations and prescriptions for those under 6 years of age;
  • Most Laboratory tests including x rays;
  • Healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth;
  • Prescription meds for all public hospital treatments and GP referrals;
  • Breast screening (Aged 50-64 years of age)

Community Service Card

Payments to Doctors and for medications can be subsidized if you qualify for a Community Service Card, this is especially helpful for families. If you are on a low or middle income and are a New Zealand resident or citizen you qualify. If can reduce the cost of your medications, visits to the doctors, glasses for children, free emergency dental treatment and more. To check out more information to see if you can qualify click here!

Ambulance Service

St. Johns is the only service providers in New Zealand. The ambulance service comes at a cost as it is not fully funded by the Government, depending on your circumstances you may get charged for there services (around $50-65). More details about the service can be found online here. And you need to dial 111.

Dental Care

For dental treatment, almost always you have to pay as the dentists are not subsidized by the government. Only the children under the age of 18 can get free of cost dental treatment and that too from a school dentist. Cost for dental treatment can vary from doctor to doctor and from treatment to treatment. As a rough guide, a dental doctor in New Zealand can cost you anywhere between $45 to $85 for a check up or any minor treatment. The price for ceramic crowning can go up to astonishing $1200 and for a simple filling can be $150. It is always advised to check and compare prices of different dentists online before you choose one.

Maternity Care

In order to get free maternity treatment when pregnant you need to be either a Australian or New Zealand citizen, or your husband or partner needs to be a citizen on a work visa and staying in the country for 24 consecutive months. However the UK does have a reciprocal agreement with New Zealand so if you don’t qualify you will be eligible for imperative and required maternity care which includes labour and birth and postal natal services. If you qualify, then the insurance will cover everything from the diagnostic of pregnancy till the birth of the baby. In New Zealand, you can also choose if you want the baby to be delivered at home. Stay in public hospitals is free of cost. To find out more click here!