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 highly-skilled human resources make it comparable to other developed nations in the world.

Expats are particularly attracted to the unspoken culture of the New Zealand government whose 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. Except for 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 the ideal. This country’s comprehensive and accessible healthcare system ensures that everyone gets ‘a fair go in life’ regardless if he is a local or an expat.

Healthcare Coverage for Expats

New Zealand's public health care 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 the medical costs while individuals contribute what they can afford which means that there are no automatic social security deductions from the employees’ salaries. 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 utilised in the most practical of ways for the government and the most beneficial ways for the people.

"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

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.

Visiting a Doctor

The first points of care for non-emergency medical needs in New Zealand are General Practitioners or GPs. GPs in this country usually operate in groups in medical centres and are the ones who give referrals in case a patient needs to see a specialist. Currently, there are more than 3,000 GPs in New Zealand that are scattered in every major island, city, town and suburb. To find one, expats can browse through the White Pages of their local phone books or go to the website of Healthpoint which has a listing of all registered GPs in the country.

When seeing a doctor in New Zealand, expats can expect being occasionally referred to alternative practitioners specialising 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.

Hospitals in New Zealand

New Zealand has 40 public hospitals and several privately owned medical facilities such as clinics. Public hospitals in this country are owned and run by district health boards (DHB). These state-funded hospitals offer a variety of health and disability services such as diagnostic, medical, surgical, maternity and emergency services. With the exception of cosmetic surgery, hospitals treatment in New Zealand is free for all its nationals and qualified expats. Some of the most respectable hospitals in this country are:

2 Park Road Grafton, Auckland

Tel: 09 367 0000

829 Cameron Road Private Bag 12024 Tauranga

Tel: 07 579 8000

29 Customs Street West Auckland 1010

Tel: (09) 925 5300

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 dialled.


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