You and your family’s wellbeing will be in good hands with our excellent health system.
New Zealand's comprehensive health system is built on Kiwi's inbuilt need to see that everyone gets 'a fair go' in life.
Getting seen by a doctor is usually easy (unless you live in a small town or somewhere particularly remote), and healthcare is quite affordable.
New Zealand residents* benefit from a public health system that is free or low cost thanks to heavy Government subsidies. Non-residents can also use healthcare services at a cost. You can choose to take out medical insurance for private healthcare, although most New Zealanders do not opt for this additional cover.
First contact: your GP
At the heart of New Zealand’s health system is the General Practitioner (GP) or family doctor you’ll find in almost every suburb and town. You don’t normally have to wait long to see one. Generally you can get an appointment the same day or within a day or two. In rural areas you may need to wait a bit longer or visit a larger town/city.
Read more about finding a doctor at Ministry of Health.
To get a prescription you first have to go to your GP. Many medicines are Government subsidised, but you’ll generally pay about $5 for the prescription to be dispensed at a pharmacy.
Search for urgent pharmacies at yellow.co.nz.
Hospital treatment is free in the public system for residents, and specialists’ treatment is subsidised, but there can be waiting lists for both. That’s one of the main reasons why some Kiwis take out medical insurance - to bypass waiting lists for specialists or for surgery.
See a list of hospitals at the Ministry of Health.
Accident and emergency treatment at public hospitals is free. Ambulances are community operated and be called by dialing 111. They’re free in some areas, or part-charged in others – at most $80 for an emergency callout.
Children get free basic dental care until they’re 18, but otherwise dentists aren’t part of the free public health system. As a guide, dentists charge around $85 for a checkup, $150 for a simple filling or $1200 for a ceramic crown. Many medical insurance policies give you the option to cover dental care too.
Read more at Healthy Smiles.
Injuries from accidents are covered by the Government’s personal injury insurer known as ACC (the Accident Compensation Corporation).
ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand, even temporary visitors, for injuries resulting from accidents – everything from car crashes to injuries at work, slips, trips and falls at home or breaking your arm skiing.
Read more at ACC.
Maternity care is free in the public system from diagnosis to pre- and post-natal care for mother and baby. In New Zealand, most babies are born in hospital, although it’s equally acceptable to have the baby at home. There is no charge for the hospital stay.
Many child health services are free for residents under New Zealand’s public health system. These include immunisation against serious disease, regular eyesight and hearing checks at school, and visits to the doctor. Basic dental care through school dental clinics is also free while children are at school.
Further support for parents and children is available free from the Plunket Society.
New mothers are entitled to up to 14 continuous weeks of paid maternity leave and a further 38 weeks unpaid, provided they have been working 10 or more hours per week for the previous six months.
Read more about maternity care at the Ministry of Health.
People over 65 may get financial and practical assistance with medical help at home or if they need to move to a rest home or hospital.
There are a wide range of insurance policies available with different premiums. But as a guide, in June 2013 a single non-smoker in their mid-30s would pay from NZ$600 a year for a basic plan.
Read about private health insurers at Health Funds.
Eligibility for healthcare
* The information given on this page applies to New Zealand residents and citizens. However some other individuals, (e.g. UK citizens and holders of two-year work visas) are also eligible for free health care, or for selected free services.
For full eligibility criteria visit the Ministry of Health.