The healthcare system in New Zealand


Sarah Peddie

New Zealand has been known for having good quality healthcare. The country is full of well-trained doctors, fully equipped hospitals and prompt emergency care. The government-provided health insurance scheme covers most accident-related injuries whether you have any type of insurance so everyone is covered and won’t be left untreated. 

However, the healthcare system in New Zealand may be a bit different to what you are used to as it is a mix of public and private healthcare services. 

How does it work? 

Both of the private and public healthcare services are very good. Public care is funded through general taxation which gives residents free or subsidised medical care. Private healthcare is obviously more costly, but like most places, you will get treatment quicker. 

Emergency medical care is available from three different organisations - each run by permanent staff and also volunteers.

Public healthcare

In order to access public healthcare, you need to be a permanent resident in New Zealand. If you are a permanent resident then you have access to free and heavily-subsidised health services and also emergency care. 

Free medical care includes general medical tests, children’s immunisation and prescription medication for children under six years-old. Subsidised medical care includes General Practitioner (GP) visits, purchase of prescription medication and ambulance services. 

One of the biggest downsides to public healthcare is the waiting times for non-emergency care and these waiting times can vary between hospitals. 

Private healthcare 

Many residents in New Zealand opt for private health insurance to jump the queue for non-emergency procedures. However, private healthcare users can still use the public system. 

There is a wide range of clinics and private hospitals throughout the country and they provide services such as general surgery, recuperative care and specialist procedures. Private testing laboratories and radiology clinics are also available under private insurance. 

Health insurance

Compared to other countries, New Zealand doesn’t have overly expensive health insurance costs. If you are heading over there to work - some workplaces offer medical cover within your work package.

Both private and public hospitals accept health insurance. If you are an expat then you can choose between international health cover or local health insurance providers. 

Hospitals and pharmacies 

Hospitals in New Zealand are usually well equipped with the latest medical devices and have highly skilled and qualified medical professionals working in them. 

For emergencies, you can visit an Emergency Department in a public hospital or an Accident and Medical Clinics - which will treat emergencies and urgent care cases that includes car crashes, bone fractures and other accidents. 

The New Zealand government set up a specialist agency called PHARMAC which aims to subsidise medication and have low drug prices. Around 2,000 drugs that are sold in the country have been subsidised whether it be partially or fully. 

There are plenty of pharmacies throughout the country, especially in urban areas which include large franchises as well as independent ones and also online services. 24-hour pharmacies are rare. 

Are you a medical professional and thinking about heading to New Zealand in 2021? Then, register with Odyssey Recruitment and we could help you find the perfect job in New Zealand for you.