New Zealand is a very safe and highly developed country with minimal health risks for expats moving there. If you are relocating to New Zealand for longer than 90 days, New Zealand expat health insurance becomes a necessity, as it will give you medical coverage at the most expensive, private medical facilities in the country. The New Zealand government has formulated a robust public healthcare system as well as a private one. However, if you are an expat, the rules will be different for you and your family.
Types of Medical Care Facilities in New Zealand
A public healthcare system in New Zealand was devised during the early 1990s. Several reforms have been introduced over the years, resulting in a mixed healthcare system including both private and public options.
- Public medical care offers free or subsidized healthcare facilities that are not limited to hospital-based care or emergency treatment. It includes GP (General Practitioner) visits, prescriptions, ambulance use, dental care for children, childbirth and postnatal care, medical tests, and much more.
- Private healthcare facilities will give you the option to skip the line and get immediate medical attention.
How to Use Public Healthcare Facilities as an Expat in New Zealand
Public healthcare facilities in New Zealand include free or heavily subsidized treatment in public hospitals for permanent residents. You are eligible to receive free healthcare in New Zealand if:
- You possess a permit for permanent residency.
- You are an Australian citizen or permanent resident who has stayed or intends to stay there for 2 years or more.
- You have a valid New Zealand health insurance work visa valid for two years or more.
If you don’t meet any of these qualifications, then you will be responsible for any and all costs of medical care while in the country—which explains why an expat healthcare policy is a must-have in New Zealand.
Note that if you’re in an accident, your treatment and recuperation are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). ACC provides comprehensive, no-fault personal injury coverage for all New Zealand residents, as well as expats.
Access to healthcare in New Zealand for non-residents starts with registering with a GP. However, there are no restrictions on which GP an expat has to register with. To further reduce medical costs, expats can apply for Primary Health Organization (PHO) membership. This is a district-funded program that reduces consultation fees and medicine costs. Membership can take up to three months to get approved; therefore, if you are moving to New Zealand as an expat, be sure to apply for the residential PHO as soon as possible.
Private Healthcare in New Zealand
If you are not eligible for public medical insurance in New Zealand, get your expat health insurance from a trusted insurance provider before you arrive.
Private healthcare facilities will give you access to top-quality medical treatments, while at the same time letting you avoid long wait times. New Zealand has numerous private medical facilities, from radiology clinics to well-equipped testing labs to recuperative medical facilities to specialist hospitals.
If you’re an expat without a permanent residence permit, ensure you have comprehensive private medical coverage for a peaceful stay in New Zealand. However, in order to buy most New Zealand based private health insurance plans in New Zealand, you must be eligible for public healthcare services.
Private healthcare systems give you the freedom to decide when and where you want to be treated for health issues. You can choose the healthcare specialist or the hospital that you prefer.
There are two main types of private healthcare policies:
- Comprehensive coverage policies cover you for all your medical costs, including GP visits and prescriptions.
- Policies that provide cover for combinations of specialist care and elective (non-urgent) surgery.
If you are not eligible for public and private healthcare insurance, then…
The New Zealand government strongly recommends that you opt for comprehensive travel insurance with health coverage. Comprehensive travel insurance can cover you for most medical costs in the New Zealand healthcare system. You can either buy travel insurance before you leave your home country or when you arrive in New Zealand. There are no pre-specifications for insurance coverage, meaning you can decide what you want to include.
Of course, for longer duration stay in New Zealand, you should consider purchasing Expat Health Insurance.
What Does an Expat Healthcare Insurance Cover?
Expat health insurance in New Zealand provides:
- Comprehensive high-level medical coverage
- Maternity health coverage
- Healthcare for children (may or may not be chargeable depending on the insurance provider)
- Medical evacuation coverage
- Optional coverage for health risks associated with your work activities
- Coverage for evacuation due to natural disasters
- Coverage for dental care
If you have a job in New Zealand…
If you are new in the country, ask your employer if they are planning on paying for your private healthcare policy. You will not be eligible for the public healthcare system until you get your permanent residency permit.
Also, more than 20% of New Zealand expatriates with private health policies have their coverage partly funded by their employers. If your pay package is more than $75,000, it is even more likely that your company will pay towards your private health coverage. Ask your employer about medical insurance coverage as soon as possible.
Expat Health Insurance for Peace of Mind
An expat health insurance plan can give you peace of mind if you have a long stay in a foreign land. It can take care of your medical needs if any emergency befalls you. Most expat health insurance covers children for free on the parent’s health policy. Therefore, buying expat health insurance is a precaution every expatriate should take.