What You Need to Know About Relocate to NewZealand

Healthcare in New Zealand is a mix of private and public services. Public healthcare doesn’t necessarily mean entirely free. You will still need to pay a small fee for certain services. Expats will need to check their eligibility to avail of healthcare services, which is basically any visa that allows them to stay in the country for two years. Ineligible expats also cannot apply for private coverage.


New Zealand has an efficient healthcare system in place with on-the-dot emergency care with top notch hospitals and doctors. It is a mixed public-private scheme, with some services charged to private insurance providers.

Public healthcare covers: prescriptions, x-rays, treatments, some laboratory tests, dental care until the age of 18, breast exams, and maternity care for pregnant women for the duration of the pregnancy until up to six weeks after childbirth.

Adult dental care and optometry are not covered by public healthcare.

“No Fault” Insurance Scheme

The government has put in place a “no fault” insurance scheme known as Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) which covers the cost of any accidents you may have, whether or not you apply

for public or private healthcare. Informing the receptionist and the doctor beforehand that your situation is accident-related guarantees a lower consultation cost. If the treatment is above what is covered by the ACC, then co-payment may apply.

New Zealand’s healthcare system has three levels of care: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

Primary Care

Primary care refers to the general treatment of medical concerns, such as the flu, bone fractures, minor skin rash or acute medical conditions. It includes procuring the services of a family doctor, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, and other medical services such as counselling.

These services are provided free of charge in public hospitals and clinics but it’s always best to check your eligibility first.

Secondary and Tertiary Care

Secondary care includes hospital services (either public or private) and specialist care. Patients have the option of procuring public or private services, depending on availability or preference. Secondary and tertiary care also covers cancer treatment and plastic surgery, among other procedures.

Hospitals in New Zealand

Hospitals in New Zealand are mostly equipped with the latest medical devices, along with highly qualified medical professionals.

Costs of General Practitioner (Family Doctor) Care
A visit to a doctor will cost around 50 NZD (31 USD), but may vary between localities and practices. Always remember that the farther you are from bigger cities, the more limited your options are for doctors and services.

Cost of Specialist Care
Availing the services of private specialist doctors is always the better option, compared to being put on a waiting list that could last up to four months for a consultation. Initial private consultations start from 150 NZD (93 USD).

Enrolling vs. Registering with a General Practitioner

Enrolling with a GP simply means cheaper doctor visits and prescription medicines, whereas simply registering would mean paying higher costs.

Enrolling with a GP is only available to eligible individuals. Enrollment is only allowed if one has all the necessary documentation proving eligibility. The rest may be allowed to register with a family doctor, but not enroll.

How to Find Specialists

Through the public healthcare system, your family doctor will refer you to a specialist should the need arise. Be prepared to be put on a waiting list for certain specialists and procedures, which may last several months.

How to Find a Dentist

Finding a local dentist requires research for better comparison of cost and services. Dental consultation fees and services are not fixed so make sure you shop around first before committing to the first one you find.

Average Waiting Time to See A Doctor in New Zealand

The waiting period to avail of certain medical services could be a big factor when deciding whether or not to get private coverage.

Here are the maximum waiting times for several medical services through public healthcare:
– Ten days to inform a patient if he/she will be assessed by a specialist.
– Six months from the referral for an initial specialist assessment.
– Six months for treatment.
– Six months for clinical review of patients that have not been accepted for treatment but have been placed under “active” review.

Giving Birth in New Zealand

You will need to read up on temporary visa requirements if you are pregnant and plan on giving birth in New Zealand. Having a baby as a foreigner could get quite expensive if you are not eligible for public healthcare. To find out whether or not you are eligible, check here.

Among other requirements, you will need a visa that allows you to live in New Zealand for two years. Not personally qualifying for public healthcare means that you may also get free maternity care through the status of your spouse or de facto partner. That is, if they are either a New Zealand or Australian citizen, or hold a permanent resident visa or working visa.

Cost of Giving Birth in New Zealand
The average cost of giving birth in New Zealand without public insurance coverage is 9,000 NZD (5,605 USD). So, unless you have a sponsor who can guarantee coverage of your expenses, you must be able to prove prior to childbirth that you have this amount and are able to support yourself financially.

Benefits of Giving Birth in New Zealand
You are entitled to up to ten days special leave if you are working while pregnant. This is mandated for all the maternity-related appointments you may have. Be reminded however, that the ten days special leave is unpaid.

You can expect good quality maternal care throughout your pregnancy with New Zealand’s advanced healthcare system. You will be cared for 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth by your Lead Maternity Carer (LMC).

Giving Birth in New Zealand for Citizenship
Only a child with one of the parents being a citizen or has permanent residence status may acquire citizenship.

A child’s citizenship is automatically registered once you fill out the notification of birth for registration. You will need to fill out the form with information about both parents, such as name, birth, occupation and citizenship.

Giving Birth in New Zealand as a Permanent Resident
As a permanent resident, your entire maternity period will be covered by New Zealand’s free public healthcare system. You may want to choose a maternity carer as soon as you learn about the pregnancy. You may pick between a general practitioner specialized in childbirth, a midwife or an obstetrician. You may ask around for a reputable midwife in your area or choose one online. Just keep in mind that obstetricians are not covered by the public healthcare system.

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