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.
Check if there are going to be charges when you make an appointment.
You qualify for subsidised care if you are a citizen, resident, hold a work visa for that is valid for two years or more from the date you arrive, or hold a work visa and have legally resided in NZ for the last two years. If you meet these criteria, then your children aged 17 years or under will also be eligible for publicly funded healthcare.
If you do not qualify 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 eligibility page.
Injuries from accidents
Most of the costs of injuries from accidents are covered by New Zealand’s unique personal accident compensation scheme which is run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
ACC provides no-fault insurance cover to everyone in New Zealand for injuries resulting from accidents - everything from car crashes to injuries at work, slips, trips and falls at home or breaking your arm skiing, even if the person who is injured caused the accident.
ACC helps cover medical and treatment fees and rehabilitation costs such as physiotherapy or residential care, although there are part-charges for some treatments. They will also make a payment to families in the case of accidental death, even if the family live outside of New Zealand.
You pay for your ACC cover through a levy on your income and also charges for running your motorcar.
Under New Zealand’s ACC system, you don’t have the right to sue anyone for injuries from an accident.
ACC’s website has more information about what is and isn’t covered and what happens if you injure yourself.
Guides to ACC are available in Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Korean, Chinese and Hindi
Dental care costs
Dental care is free for eligible children up to 18 years of age. This free care isn’t 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 so 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 find out more about dental care costs visit the Ministry of Health website.
The cost of many medicines and medical devices is covered through the public health system.
What’s covered and what’s not 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’re for children under 13 they are free.
Medicines that aren’t fully subsidised will cost more.
There’s more information at the Ministry of Health website.
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.
- It’s more common however to choose policies providing cover for specific combinations of specialist care and elective (non-urgent) surgery.
Life Direct, a privately-operated website, has useful information about health insurance, and the ability to compare policies from a range of New Zealand health insurance providers.