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Using The Healthcare System In New Zealand – A Short Guide For Expats

New Zealand has a comprehensive healthcare system that is based on the country’s inherent underlying principle of fairness. Expats will find that is quite easy to see a doctor when in need and healthcare services are also affordable. Residents of New Zealand and certain work visa holders can become integrated into the public healthcare system and avail of free or low-cost medical care due to large government subsidies. Non-residents can also use these services, but at a cost. Many non-residents choose to buy health medical insurance from their home countries. Apart from public healthcare, residents can also obtain private health insurance.Public healthcare

The New Zealand government funds healthcare services through general taxation, and through this system, residents are able to receive free or low-cost medical services. Apart from hospital care, residents can also receive emergency treatment and free standard medical tests. Children under the age of 6 years can also receive certain prescription medications free of cost. In addition, consultations with a general practitioner, adult prescription drugs and ambulance services are available at highly affordable costs. The subsidized services also include x-rays, lab tests, pregnancy and post-natal care. Cancer is a major concern and the government provides breast screening for women between ages 50 to 54 free of cost. New Zealand’s government-funded program known as the Primary Health Organization (PHO) further reduces prices of medical services, although some services are not subsidized and these come at full cost. The services of chiropractors and physiotherapists are available at low costs. Expats can apply to join a PHO in their district once they arrive in the country, and the application usually gets processed within 3 months.

Expats with a permanent residence permit or valid work permit are eligible to receive free public healthcare. However, expats with work permits qualify for public healthcare only 2 years after the permit has been issued. Following this, even their immediate families are eligible for state health benefits.

Expats can access healthcare in New Zealand by registering with a General Practitioner. They can choose which GP to register with, depending on their individual need and the physician’s specialty. But as is the case with public healthcare in many countries, there may be long waiting periods for non-urgent conditions.

Private healthcare

Those who opt for private healthcare can still use the free public medical services. Many take this route so they can avoid the long waiting lines in public hospitals and clinics. Private hospitals and clinics are present in plenty in New Zealand and private health insurance is affordable, especially in comparison to other countries. Medical insurance may also be part of an employment contract in some cases.

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The big cities and towns all have pharmacies located throughout the area. These include the smaller local pharmacies as well as the large chains. A Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card (PSC) enables cardholders and the listed family members to buy prescription medicines at a lower cost by setting a limit of 20 items on the number of prescriptions that a person or family pays for in a year. This helps cardholders to manage high prescription costs. PSCs are issued if you use the same pharmacy every time for prescriptions.

Accident treatment

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) subsidizes the treatment for accident-related injuries if the treatment is provided by a registered health professional. Individuals may have to pay a part-charge for GP visits and other recommended treatments such as physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment. Those on a visit to New Zealand must have proper travel insurance that can cover the cost of expenses that the ACC does not cover.

Ambulances are run by non-profit community-based services in different regions. There are also hospitals and private companies that provide ambulances. The patient may have to incur a small cost when using emergency ambulance treatment or transport.

Health hazards

Expats do not have to worry about any major health risks when living in New Zealand. The country has only a few species of animals that are considered deadly. However, there is a vulnerability to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to New Zealand’s location at a seismically active region. GeoNet is the official disaster monitoring system that issues early warnings to residents through its website and social media sites.

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