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New Zealand - Health Service
The public healthcare system has high standards. Subsidized healthcare is accessible to all citizens, specific visitors, and permanent residents. The standards of the New Zealand healthcare system can be compared to those of Germany or France. Although the state covers a major share of the cost of medical treatment, citizens are expected to make small contributions to cover their healthcare. Unlike the British National Health Service, New Zealand requires visitors and expats to cover their healthcare costs.
New Zealand’s ministry of health funds the state’s healthcare system. The District Health Board meets the objective of the government by spending allocated funds in the most cost-effective way. The funding buys healthcare services from providers such as hospitals, family doctors, nursing homes, and other healthcare institutions.
New Zealand’s healthcare system has been in place since 1993 and has contributed to the reformation of most hospitals. It has effectively boosted healthy competition in the healthcare sector, which has helped people to access quality healthcare at some of the best rates in the world. However, this has not been without its fair share of challenges. The healthcare system in New Zealand is increasingly feeling the pressure of dealing with an increase in demand for healthcare services.
Politicians have found ways to reduce the healthcare budget to lessen the burden on taxpayers. Some hospitals ended up closing and the waiting list for non-emergency treatment has increased significantly. Disruption of services is frequent with the government experimenting with different measures to provide better healthcare services at a lower cost. The rise in the number of chronic diseases and increase in population has created challenges for the state’s healthcare system. The provided budget is not enough to pay medical staff as well as provide medical supplies.
According to the New Zealand Medical Association, there is shortage of rural general practitioners and professionals in some branches of medicine. Many doctors have big student debts and prefer to work abroad and earn higher salaries. Although you will not be turned away from a hospital when you need emergency medical attention, it is important to obtain medical insurance to cover your healthcare costs. The country does not deduct social security health contributions as the cost of providing health services is met by taxation. Many New Zealanders have tried alternative therapies to treat certain medical conditions. Some of the most used alternative therapies include homeopathy, herbal medicine, chiropractic services, and osteopathy.
Alcohol related diseases are very common in New Zealand. There are few cases of smoking related disease. Research indicates that poverty related diseases such as TB and rickets are increasing. The infant mortality rate currently stands at six deaths for a thousand live births and the life expectancy has decreased to 78 years.
Hospital inpatient treatment is provided for free whereas outpatient and non-hospital treatment is catered for by the patient albeit at a subsidized cost. Low-income earners can apply for a Community Services Card, which allows them to get discounted healthcare services. There are no special charges for specific groups, though free doctor services are provided to children under the age of six. On the other hand, pensioners are not entitled to reduced healthcare service costs unless they are in the low-income category. Optical and dental services are not catered for in the state healthcare scheme.
As an alternative to public healthcare, some people use private health treatment to seek second opinions and for complementary medicine. You may pay for private healthcare through insurance or with cash. However, most people accessing private healthcare use private health insurance to avoid the long waiting lists associated with public hospitals. People with medical insurance cover can go to the hospital or healthcare professional of their choice. However, it is important to ensure that the private healthcare provider you choose is qualified to provide the relevant treatment.
Professionals in public hospitals in New Zealand are just as qualified as those in private hospitals. Do not make the mistake of assuming that a doctor in private practice is more experienced than one in a public hospital. In many cases, doctors work in shifts alternating between private and public hospitals because of the huge demand for their services.
Public healthcare system does not cover the medical treatment of people involved in an accident. The treatment is instead covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation. The benefits of the scheme include catering for surgery, specialists, medicine, hospital care, and doctors fee regardless of who or how the accident occurred.
In case of a medical emergency, call 111 and ask for an ambulance, which will take you to the nearest hospital. The ambulance service is free of charge and is provided by different institutions depending on the region you are in. Teams of paramedics provide ambulance services to people in need of emergency medical care. There are car and helicopter ambulances for remote areas. Trained search and rescue teams and doctors are usually dispatched to remote areas in case of accidents. These specialists are able to perform minor surgeries and treatments on the spot.
If your condition does not require a hospital visit, you can consult a family doctor. Some towns have after hours health centers where you see a surgeon or general practitioner when your doctor’s office is closed. Accident Info Services is a company that offers telephone information services and helps callers to access the healthcare services. The company provides information to people looking for doctors and hospitals in various locations. You can access their services by calling 0800-263345 or 09-5290488.
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