Healthcare in New Zealand

 

 

New Zealand is always a pleasant surprise to those who know nothing beyond its size. Though small, this oceanic nation is big in every other way.

In terms of healthcare - superior facilities, equipment, services and human resources make it comparable to other developed nations in the world. Expats are particularly attracted to the unspoken culture of its government going the extra mile to ensure everyone is given the right medical attention at the right time. It is seldom that a person who gets sick in New Zealand gets sicker because nobody has the right medical expertise or the facility to offer. With the exception of extremely rare cases when a patient needs an offshore specialist, everyone who needs health care will be offered such with standards not falling short of ideal. 

New Zealand's public healthcare system thrives on a government subsidy program offered to citizens, expatriates and even certain visitors. The system is very similar to that of European countries where the government shoulders most of medical costs while individuals contribute what they can afford. The Ministry of Health is the main government agency tasked to provide funding for public health care while the District Health Boards ensure the funds are utilized in the most practical of ways for the government and the most beneficial ways for the people. 

The nation's current healthcare system has been in existence for at least seventeen years with the latest addition being the 2005 Health Information Strategy for New Zealand which provides for specific policies to keep up with the changes in people's healthcare needs. Today, there are specific provisions that provide special conditions for the care of the aging population and patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes as well as cardiovascular and infectious diseases. The government has also created a program that responds to the increasing challenges of technology costs related to treatments. 

Because of the rapidly increasing number of expatriates in New Zealand, the government has even created special policies to ensure that they are offered the highest standards. However, a disadvantage of this has been a high cost, especially when care is obtained from private facilities. Hence, all expats are advised to arrive with international healthcare cover to cushion effects of necessary health expenses that may be relatively higher compared to other regions. Although private insurance is not viewed as necessary due to the existence of a public health plan, it is deemed best for all expats to obtain private insurance for added security.

"I know there are many Americans with grand ideas about socialized medicine being better than what they have now, but having worked in and used both, I would quite happily pay my U.S. insurance premiums again. I needed an ECHO, and was told that it would be about a year before I would receive one through the public system." - Callie Reweti, Expat in New Zealand

When seeing a doctor in New Zealand, expats can expect being occasionally referred to alternative practitioners specializing in chiropractic, osteopathy and osteopathy. While the country's medical resources are abundant, everyone has remained open-minded to various techniques or disciplines in the prevention and treatment of diseases, although licensed medical practitioners are still the main authority with regards to resolving individual and social health issues.

Expats who are relatively new to the country's healthcare landscape may find useful help from private companies offering information on how to access the different institutions from where medical care may be sourced. For medical emergencies, the 911 hotline may be dialed. 

Healthcare is one of every expat's main concerns when finding a new place to call home. In New Zealand, this rarely is an issue.

 

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