How to Pay for Healthcare in New Zealand if You are from Overseas
Being ill or injured sucks but it sucks more when you are in an entirely different country with different healthcare systems and no one to make you hot soup. However, New Zealand is definitely not a bad country to have an accident in or have the need to see a doctor. Healthcare in New Zealand is made pretty affordable thanks to government subsidies and a public accident compensation scheme, for which overseas visitors are also eligible. To prepare you for if the worst should happen, we have put this quick guide together on how to pay for healthcare services in New Zealand.
The price of healthcare in New Zealand is reasonable when you only break a bone or need to have a doctor’s consultation once with perhaps a quick prescription to pick up. Anything more than that is when the expenses can add up and you’ll be thankful that travel insurance. For advice on choosing the right travel insurance, check out our complete New Zealand Travel Insurance Guide.
5 Ways to Keep the Cost of Healthcare Down When Travelling in New Zealand
You can’t prepare for everything but you can reduce your chances of getting sick, being in an accident or needing to buy medication in New Zealand…
- See a doctor before you leave home – Get a check-up so there are no nasty surprises during your trip
- Stock up on your prescriptions before leaving home – You can bring three months’ worth of medication into New Zealand. If you need more, ask your doctor and pharmacist to write a letter explaining why in the case that you need to show this at the Immigration desk when you arrive in New Zealand. On the same note, remember to declare your mediation on your Passenger Arrival Card.
- Be aware of how to stay safe in New Zealand’s outdoor environments with our guide to Outdoor Safety in New Zealand
- Understand the rules of New Zealand roads when driving with our guide on How to Drive in New Zealand
- Choose comprehensive travel insurance that actually covers what’s necessary and that comes at a fair price.
For more health tips, check out the Health Tips For Travelling in New Zealand.
Paying for Healthcare in New Zealand Due to Illness
The healthcare system in New Zealand is mostly made up of private providers. If you are a visitor or hold a work visa for less than two years (which is the case with working holiday visas), then you will have to pay full price for healthcare in New Zealand.
How Much Does Seeing a Doctor Cost in New Zealand for Non-Residents?
The price to see a general practitioner (GP) or doctor for non-residents is usually around NZ$80, or slightly more expensive when using a convenient telehealth service like CareHQ (see our full guide to telehealth in New Zealand here). Additional care and treatment vary in price on a case-by-case basis.
When Do You Pay for Your GP Consultation in New Zealand?
The fee to see the GP is usually paid at the end of the appointment. The fee may also be reduced for simple appointments, such as just writing a prescription for medication that you already take (this mainly depends on how generous the GP is feeling).
Ask for a receipt and a full medical report for any medical treatment or GP consultation so that you can use it to claim your money back with your travel insurance provider.
Paying for Healthcare in New Zealand Due to Injuries from Accidents
Everyone, whether you’re a visitor or live in New Zealand, is entitled to New Zealand’s personal accident compensation scheme run by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). This covers part, but likely not all, of your medical bill.
The ACC provides no-fault cover for injuries caused by any kind of accident, whether it’s a trip or a fall; from skiing or being at work; or something else. A whole list of injuries that ACC covers can be found on the ACC website. You are even covered if you caused the accident.
The ACC helps with the cost of medication, treatment and rehabilitation. However, there may be some part-costs that you have to pay. These would then be covered by your travel insurance.
For more information, see What is ACC and Employee Accident Cover?
Paying for Healthcare in New Zealand Due to Injuries from Accidents at Work
If you are injured at work, then it is important that you record this straight away on an ACC form with your employer. That way, if you have to spend some time off work due to your injury, your employer and the ACC may compensate you for the loss of earnings during your time off work. You are eligible for this compensation even if you are on a working holiday visa.
Again, more information is outlined in What is ACC and Employee Accident Cover?
Medication Costs in New Zealand
Once you are given a prescription from a GP or doctor, you can pick it up from a pharmacy. The cost of many medicines is subsidised through the public healthcare system.
What medications are covered and what is not is decided by the Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC), where you can read more about what’s covered on their website. Each medicine that is covered will cost NZ$5-$15 to pick up from a pharmacy. Medicines that are not subsidised will cost more.
Again, medication may be covered by your travel insurance so be sure to keep the receipt and contact your travel insurance provider.
Paying for Dental Care and Vision Care
Dentists and opticians are run by private companies in New Zealand, meaning there is a great difference between prices for dental and vision care. You will have to pay for dentists and opticians yourself unless you have dental issues caused by an accident that occurred in New Zealand, then you may be able to get some compensation from the ACC for dental care.
It’s best to shop around when looking for dentists and opticians in New Zealand, as it is unlikely that your travel insurance will cover this (unless you have added it on as an extra).
If you want to buy glasses or contact lenses from an optician in New Zealand, it is usually mandatory to have an eye test first. However, a way around this if you know your eye correction prescription is to order them online.
Paying for Healthcare in New Zealand with Your Travel Insurance
It is compulsory for international students and working holiday visa holders to have travel insurance during their time in New Zealand. For those on a visitor visa, the choice is up to you. For those who have travel insurance, what it covers depends on the policy you have purchased. In most cases, your travel insurance will cover the cost of medical consultations with a GP and any part cost that is not covered by ACC or subsidised by the New Zealand healthcare system.
How to Pay Using Travel Insurance
You will need to pay for doctor consultations and prescriptions upfront. Otherwise, you will be sent a bill for more complex treatments or rehabilitation. You can then claim this money back with your travel insurance company. This is usually done by filling out a claim form on your travel insurance website or by making a phone call to your travel insurance provider. Make sure that you have the appropriate paperwork necessary to make a claim, such as the receipt of your medical bill and a full doctor’s report.
How to Choose Travel Insurance
Choosing good travel insurance is a tricky business with so many companies out there offering different things – some things you need and some things that are completely bogus. Consider what you might actually need should the worse happen, such as cover for luggage and personal items, work cover and disrupted travel and transit. You may also want to add cover for extreme sports like scuba diving and skiing, which is not usually included in basic travel insurance plans.
A reliable New Zealand-based travel insurance that we’ve tried and tested is Orbit Protect. Read more about them, as well as some serious tips for choosing travel insurance for New Zealand in How to Choose the BEST Travel Insurance for New Zealand.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Pay for Healthcare in New Zealand
If you still haven’t had your question about how to pay for healthcare in New Zealand answered, maybe it will be here!
Is Healthcare Free in New Zealand for Foreigners?
Healthcare is not free in New Zealand for foreigners. Although some of the medical costs caused by having an accident in New Zealand may be covered by ACC, foreigners will have to pay for doctor’s consultations, prescriptions and other forms of healthcare. Bearing in mind, however, that much healthcare in New Zealand is heavily subsidised.
Is Healthcare Free for Tourists in New Zealand?
Healthcare is not free for tourists in New Zealand. Although some of the medical costs caused by having an accident in New Zealand may be covered by ACC, tourists will have to pay for doctor’s consultations, prescriptions and other forms of healthcare. Bearing in mind, however, that much healthcare in New Zealand is heavily subsidised.
What is the Cost of Healthcare in New Zealand?
The cost of healthcare in New Zealand varies depending on the treatment. However, the standard cost for a GP’s consultation for non-residents is around NZ$80, while prescriptions are around NZ$5 to $15. Bear in mind, however, that much healthcare in New Zealand is heavily subsidised, so it is relatively affordable.
More About How to Pay for Healthcare in New Zealand
That’s it for our guide on how to pay for healthcare in New Zealand. For more health tips, check out the following:
- 14 Questions to Ask Before Buying Medical Travel Insurance
- Health Tips for Travelling in New Zealand
- New Zealand Working Holiday & Student Insurance: FULL Guide
Finally, for more advice and costs to expect while travelling around NZ, take a look at NZ Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to New Zealand Cost?