The New Zealand health care system has changed a lot over its lifetime. Its current health care is modeled after a universal structure and provides for many of the services that are needed in New Zealand. But does New Zealand have Free Health Care For Visitors?
The New Zealand health care system is set up to offer permanent residents a mixture of free or subsidized health care while also having the option to purchase private insurance as well. Visitors to New Zealand will be responsible for all medical costs that are accrued while there, except for those that are accident-related injuries.
New Zealand has a high standard of care in its facilities and has excellent public and private health care options. Doctors are well trained and hospitals are well equipped to service the needs of their communities.
Health Care for Residents
All individuals who are residents of New Zealand, either by birth or those that hold the correct documentation and visas, are eligible to receive free or low-cost health services. Since it is a universal coverage system, this applies to a wide range of health benefits. Services such as emergency treatments, standard medical procedures, immunizations, and children's prescriptions are fully covered by the health care system. On the other hand, services like regular check-ups, prescriptions for those over six years old, and ambulances are all available at a low cost.
Residents are also given the option to invest in private health care insurance, either independently or through their place of employment. In order to be eligible for this, you must also be eligible for the public health care system. Using private health care can lead to a faster response process when needing general care, as you are able to visit separate facilities. Even though they have purchased private health care, these individuals are still able to use the public health systems if they want to. However, purchasing private health care is not very common as it is much more costly.
Health Care for Non-Residents
If you are traveling to New Zealand for whatever amount of time, you are still able to receive health care while there. They will not turn you away simply because you are not a resident. However, you will be charged for the entirety of the services that are rendered to you, which could end up costing a pretty penny.
The only exception to this is if the injury was caused by an accident, such as a car accident or an accident that occurs as the result of an activity (i.e. boating or skydiving). These are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation. They cover all of the medical procedures and medicine that are involved in treating the injury and returning to a normal state. The doctor involved in the treatment will be able to assist those who need it in filing for this claim.
It is highly recommended that people who are traveling to New Zealand from another country get some form of comprehensive health insurance before their trip in order to cover any medical-related expenses that may arise during their time in New Zealand. Without it, they will be responsible for all of their own fees. No immunizations are required to visit New Zealand, but it is also recommended that all travelers are up-to-date on routine vaccinations and receive Hepatitis A and B shots as well.
Dental care is one of the few services that is not covered by the public health system. Any dental procedures that are completed in New Zealand are going to have to be paid for by the individual themselves. Since these fees can vary depending on the office visit, searching around to receive a few quotes on what the procedure may cost will be the best course of action. However, remember that accident-related injuries are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation, so if you are in need of a dental procedure due to an accident, it will be covered.
For children under the age of 18, dental care at some doctor's offices is offered at no cost. While this is not offered at every dental office, one can check for availability of this through a variety of dental practices.
Cost of Medicine
When needing medicine, the individual may be required to pay some upfront costs, based on a variety of factors. The government makes the decisions as to which medicines are offered free under the public health care blanket and which ones come with a nominal fee.
Children under the age of six are provided prescription medicine free of charge. After the age of six, there is a minimal cost for those eligible for the public health system. People that have a Community Services Card will be required to pay $3 per item, while those without the card will be charged between $5 and $15. Community Service Cards are available to individuals 18 and older who are permanent residents and are financially on the lower to the middle-income range.
Doctor's will more than likely prescribe the medicine that is free or low cost to their patients. If the patient requests a different kind of medicine that is not covered by the public health system, this can be prescribed by the doctor as well but will come at a full fee out of the patient's personal expenses.
How is the Health Care Paid For?
New Zealand is able to offer all of these health care services to their residents mainly through government financing, which mostly consists of taxes on the residents.
The Ministry of Health is in charge of organizing, directing and funding the appropriate means for the entirety of New Zealand. They then oversee the operations of 20 different district health boards (DHBs) who manage their specific region, which is defined by different population characteristics. The Ministry of Health provides the DHBs with the appropriate funding and knowledge for the health-related decision making that occurs in their region. While the regions may differ slightly, the standard is pretty much the same across the board.
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