Paying for healthcare services

New Zealand’s public health system is subsidised by the government, but there may be part-charges for services when private providers are involved.

If you are eligible, you can get free or subsidised health, maternity and disability services in New Zealand. Check if there are going to be charges when you make an appointment.

Eligibility for subsidised healthcare

You can receive subsidised healthcare if you can show your health provider that you meet one of the following criteria:

  • you are a New Zealand citizen or hold a New Zealand residence class visa
  • you are an Australian citizen or Australian permanent residence visa holder and you have or intend to stay in New Zealand for at least 2 consecutive years
  • you hold an interim visa and you were able to receive subsidised healthcare just before getting your interim visa
  • you hold a current work visa that allows you to work in New Zealand for at least 2 years, including time spent lawfully in New Zealand just before getting your work visa. For example, you qualify if you had a visa that allowed you to be in New Zealand for one year and you now have a work visa that allows you to stay another year.

If you meet any of the above criteria, then your children aged 17 years or under will also be eligible for publicly funded healthcare.

If you do not qualify for subsidised healthcare, you will need to pay for your healthcare as and when you need it. However, most costs of injuries from accidents are covered by our accident compensation scheme (ACC).

There are some exceptions to these rules, so check all the details on the Ministry of Health and eligibility page.

Eligibility for services | Ministry of Health

Getting publicly funded healthcare |

Eligibility guide for healthcare | Ministry of Health


Travel insurance

If you are not eligible for subsidised healthcare, it is a good idea to buy suitable travel insurance before you leave your own country. However, it is possible to get travel insurance when you arrive in New Zealand. Make it clear to the insurer that you are a non-resident visiting temporarily, so that you are sold the appropriate type of insurance.

Injuries from accidents

Accident compensation in New Zealand

Most of the costs of injuries from accidents are covered by an accident compensation scheme.


Most of the costs of injuries from accidents that happen in New Zealand are covered by New Zealand’s unique personal accident compensation scheme, run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand, including non-residents and visitors, for injuries resulting from accidents. This includes events that result in mass casualties.

If you are injured in an accident, your doctor or health provider will help you make a claim for ACC cover.

About ACC cover

ACC provides cover for physical injuries, including injuries causing death and injuries from sexual violence. They may also cover some mental injuries, if they result from a covered physical injury or a traumatic event. 

ACC cover helps pay for costs to get you back to living as normally as possible. This may include payment towards medical bills, treatment, help at home and work and help with your income.

Check ACC’s website for more information about what is and is not covered and what happens if you get injured.

Guides in Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Korean, Chinese and Hindi are also available on the website . Search for your language under Resources.

What we cover | ACC

What to do if you are injured | ACC

Dental care costs

Dental care is free for eligible children up to 18 years of age. This free care is not available through every practice, so check with your dentist, contact Talk Teeth on 0800 825 583, or visit the website.

Adults have to pay privately for most dental services. There are no fixed or recommended fees. The Ministry of Health recommends that you always ask about the fees for the treatment you need and be prepared to shop around.

If you need dental treatment because of an accident or injury, New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme ACC will help with the cost.

You can find out more about dental care costs on the Ministry of Health website.

Protect your family's smile | Ministry of Health

Publicly funded dental care | Ministry of Health

Buying medicines

In New Zealand, people visit pharmacies to fill in a prescription from the doctor or to ask advice from a pharmacist.

Find out more


Doctors' fees

It costs less to visit a doctor (general practitioner or GP) if you are enrolled with a general practice. 

General practices can only enrol people who are eligible for publicly funded health services. You can find out whether you are eligible on the Ministry of Health website.

It is free to enrol with a doctor — but you usually pay a fee each time you go to see them.  Check the fees the practice charges with them directly or on the Doctor Pricer website.

Find fees for your local GP | Doctor Pricer

Visiting a doctor - costs | Ministry of Health

Eligibility guide for healthcare | Ministry of Health

Medicine costs

The cost of many medicines and medical devices is covered through the public health system.

What is and is not covered is decided by the government’s Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC). The drugs they approve are available on prescription for a NZ$5 charge, although if they are for children under 13 they are free.

Medicines that are not fully subsidised will cost more.

There is more information on the Ministry of Health website.

Prescription charges | Ministry of Health

List of funded medications | Pharmac

Medical insurance costs

To be able to take out private health insurance in New Zealand, you must be eligible for our public health system. If you are not eligible, make sure you get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave home.

Medical insurance gives you the advantage of being able to choose the doctor, specialist or surgeon you prefer and also more control over when and where you are treated.

A number of insurance companies offer medical insurance and there are two main types of policy.

  • ‘Comprehensive cover’ policies cover you for all your medical costs, including GP visits and prescriptions.
  • Policies that provide cover for specific combinations of specialist care and elective (non-urgent) surgery.

Life Direct, a privately-operated website, has useful information about health insurance. You can also compare policies from a range of New Zealand health insurance providers.

About health insurance | Life Direct 

Compare health insurance providers | Life Direct

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Page last updated: 22/07/2019

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