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 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 eligibility page.

Eligibility for services | Ministry of Health

Injuries from accidents

Accident compensation in New Zealand

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

ACC

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. ACC covers 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 like 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 lives outside of New Zealand.

You pay for your ACC cover through a levy on your income and through charges for running your car.

Under New Zealand’s ACC system, you do not have the right to sue anyone for injuries from an accident.

ACC’s website has more information about what is and is not covered and what happens if you injure yourself.

Guides to ACC are available in Cook Island Maori, Tongan, Samoan, Korean, Chinese and Hindi. Search for your language under Resources.

Am I covered? | 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

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: 12/12/2018

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