Healthcare in New Zealand

New Zealand is a developed country that poses few health risks to expats moving there. Both public and private healthcare in New Zealand is excellent and easily accessible.

Most New Zealanders rely on state-subsidised public healthcare, provided by primary health organisations (PHOs). Private healthcare complements the public system by providing specialist procedures and speedier treatment for non-emergency care.

Before venturing to another country, make sure you have a health insurance plan you can rely on. Our international health insurance plans offer comprehensive health cover for when you are in your home country and abroad.

Public healthcare in New Zealand is consistently ranked among the world’s best. As such, expats can expect doctors and nursing staff to be highly trained and medical facilities to be well equipped.

Expats who have residency status in New Zealand or who hold a work visa valid for at least two years, qualify for free or low-cost healthcare through the country’s heavily subsidised public healthcare scheme. This includes subsidies for ambulance services and the cost of most medicines. Although New Zealand’s public healthcare is characterised by its efficiency, the main disadvantage to public care is the long waiting periods that are often required for non-emergency procedures.

Those who are ineligible for New Zealand’s public healthcare programme can still access public healthcare facilities but will be charged for treatment. In the case of accidental injury, however, the state subsidises healthcare for both residents and non-residents alike. This unique approach to accident coverage falls under the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

Although the standards of healthcare aren’t necessarily higher in private hospitals, expats with private healthcare in New Zealand can expect greater access to specialist services, as well as faster treatment for elective and non-emergency treatments.

Private healthcare provides the advantages of giving patients more control in choosing their preferred doctor or specialist, as well as where and when treatment will take place. Patients may also appreciate the greater levels of comfort that are typically provided to inpatients under private care.

Considering the greater freedom afforded by private healthcare, as well as the fact that expats won’t be covered by New Zealand’s public system unless they meet work-visa or residency requirements, it’s best to have an international healthcare plan in place before making the move.  

Pharmacies, also called ‘chemists’ locally, are prevalent in New Zealand’s big towns and cities and can often be found attached to hospitals. Although there are many pharmacies that stay open late into the night, 24-hour pharmacies are quite rare. 

Although most medication can be found in New Zealand, some prescription medicine may not be available in the country, so expats should ensure that they can access necessary medication. Those eligible for public healthcare in New Zealand are only charged a small copayment for each prescription.

New Zealand is extremely safe, with almost no dangerous species of animals and a relatively low risk of deadly diseases. As with travel to most countries, expats should speak to their doctor before travelling to ensure that they have the appropriate vaccinations. This includes staying up to date with Covid-19 vaccinations.

In an emergency, expats can call 111. It should be called in the case of medical, fire or crime-related emergencies.

Emergency services in New Zealand have fast response times, but this may not be the case in rural areas. As with New Zealand’s other medical services, expats can expect highly proficient ambulance staff.