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New Zealand is a developed country which poses few health risks to expats moving there. Both public and private healthcare in New Zealand is excellent and easily accessible and most New Zealanders rely on state-subsidised public healthcare which chiefly operates through the Primary Health Organisation (PHO). Private healthcare compliments the public system by providing specialist procedures and speedier treatment for non-emergency care.
Public healthcare in New Zealand
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. Those in New Zealand with residency status qualify for free, or low-cost healthcare through New Zealand’s heavily subsidised public healthcare scheme. This includes subsidies for ambulance services and the cost of most medicines, while certain cosmetic surgeries and elective procedures are not subsidised. 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.
New Zealand’s public healthcare system doesn’t provide for non-residents. Despite this, the state subsidises healthcare costs that are as a result of accidents 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 greater control over which doctor or specialist will treat them 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 until they are granted residency status, expats should have an international healthcare plan in place before making the move.
Pharmacies and medication
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 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. Additionally, expats who become New Zealand residents may also be legible for a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card (PSC), which lowers the cost of prescription medication.
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.
The general emergency number in New Zealand, which is free to call, is 111. It should be called in the case of medical, fire or crime-related emergencies. Generally, most hospitals don’t have their own ambulance services, although some private ambulances do also operate in New Zealand.
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.
In the case of an accident, costs from using emergency services will generally be subsidised by the ACC. In the event of an emergency that doesn’t result from an accident, expats who are not New Zealand residents will have to pay emergency service costs in full.