New Zealand Healthcare system

New Zealand Healthcare System & Medical Insurance Options for Expats

As an expat in New Zealand, you will love to explore its beautiful landscapes, unique culture, and delectable cuisines. The healthcare facilities in the country are of the highest standard too. There is no doubt that the country is a paradise for expats, digital nomads, and global citizens. The moderate maritime climate in this country is pleasant enough to stay outdoors as well as indoors. Here’s what you need to know about the New Zealand healthcare system and medical insurance options for expats.

Moving to New Zealand would mean that you are offering the luxury of feeling secure and safe to your loved ones. The anti-gun culture and the strict regulations to control their use have reduced the crime rates drastically. After Iceland, this country is ranked the second safest country in the world, according to the 2019 Global Peace Index. To enjoy a hassle-free expatriate life, you just need international health insurance that can offer adequate cover during your stay. More health information about New Zealand is available at the Ministry of Health.

Overview of Healthcare System

The public healthcare system introduced in the 20th century in New Zealand still exists after going through various reforms. Currently, the country’s healthcare system is a mix of both public and private healthcare options. As a developed country, New Zealand’s public and private healthcare systems are excellent and easily accessible for residents and expats. New Zealanders often depend on state-subsidized public healthcare which is mainly supervised by the Primary Health Organization (PHO). Private healthcare facilities on the other hand complement the public system by offering quicker services related to specialist medical procedures. The waiting time for treatment in private facilities is often much lower than in public space.

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How the New Zealand Healthcare System Works for Expats

For permanent residents and citizens, public medical care includes free or subsidized treatment in various public hospitals. To obtain these facilities, expats have to get registered with a general practitioner. To get assistance from the system, they must also have a valid work permit or certificate of permanent residency. You need to hold a work permit for at least two years to be eligible for government-subsidized healthcare.

Check out the healthcare facilities of the place or city where you decide to finally settle. It is important to understand that New Zealand is a vast country but sparsely populated. The majority of healthcare providers are located in bigger cities or urban areas. If you are moving to a place which is far away from the cities, you may end up driving long distances just to get basic medical aid.

Public Healthcare

Funded through taxes, public healthcare is affordable as you can get medical treatments free or at subsidized costs. Apart from subsidized emergency treatment, this system offers some free or affordable services including GP visits, dental care for children, maternity and postnatal care, health checkups, tests, ambulance services, etc. Expats can also apply for membership of their local PHO (Primary Health Organization) for reduced medical expenses. Through this state-funded program, the consultation fees and medicine costs can be drastically reduced.

Private Healthcare

Expats living in New Zealand can opt for private healthcare facilities. They can have access to top-quality medical treatments and avoid long waiting times.  Furthermore, this country is home to a wide variety of private care facilities. These facilities range from radiology clinics, specialists, to start-of-the-art testing labs. If you don’t have a permanent residence permit, going for private medical insurance coverage can be the best bet.

Emergency Medical Services

Emergency services in New Zealand include Fire and Emergency, Police, Ambulance, and Civil Defence. During a medical emergency, you can dial 111 for an ambulance. If you are in the Wellington area, you can obtain Wellington Free Ambulance services. Furthermore, if you are residing in some other areas or small cities, the ambulance service may cost you a fee. For a minor traffic incident, you can report it by dialing 555 from your mobile phone.

Medicines and Pharmacies

People in New Zealand visit pharmacies for various reasons including obtaining prescriptions from a doctor, taking guidance from the pharmacist, or buying medications and cosmetics. Expats may not get all the medicines prescribed by their native country’s doctor. So, registering with a local physician after arriving in New Zealand is important if you need alternative medicines. General medications for conditions like flu, cold or headache can be easily bought over the counter. You don’t need a prescription for such common medicines and many of them are subsidized by the New Zealand government. However, depending on your age and subsidy card, you may have to pay some of the costs of the medicines.

Best Private International Medical Insurance Plans for Expats Living in New Zealand

Private health insurance costs may be very high in New Zealand. However, purchasing them will give you peace of mind during your stay. Check out if your employer can offer medical cover as part of your employment contract. This is necessary because healthcare is very expensive in this part of the world. Popular international health insurance includes Cigna Global and Allianz. Find the most competitive quote or choose a plan based on your budget and individual situation.

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