Healthcare Options In New Zealand For Retirees

Some retirees may be eligible for a combination of public and private healthcare options in New Zealand. Unless you’ve spent time working in New Zealand, private health care may be your only option.

Overview of the New Zealand Healthcare System

New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to offer universal health care. In New Zealand, throughout much of the 20th century, the government covered healthcare costs entirely.
Towards the end of the 20th century, the system began to shift to incorporate a mix of public and private healthcare options. By 2008, the government still took responsibility for 77 percent of all healthcare costs, and almost all emergency and preventative care costs. (World Health Organization, 2008)
Programs like the Accidents Compensation Corporation (ACC) and the Community Service Card (CSC) drastically reduce or eliminate patient costs. Some public health programs extend to all permanent residents in New Zealand.

Public Health Programs Available for Retirees in New Zealand

Every person in New Zealand, including tourists, has constant, no-cost accident coverage in New Zealand under the Accidents Compensation Corporation. Diagnosis of physical injury and evidence that the injury occurred in New Zealand are the only requirements for coverage.
In some cases, ACC will cover you even if the event occurred overseas. You must be a legal permanent resident in order to qualify for this coverage.
Public hospitals offer free or very inexpensive treatment to all citizens and permanent residents. Permanent residents qualify for public health options if they hold a resident visa or permanent resident visa. Proof of eligibility requires a copy of your passport and resident visa.
The Primary Health Organization (PHO) significantly reduces all costs incurred from primary and preventative care. Consultation fees with specialists are generally reduced up to 50 percent. Expats with permanent residency are eligible for PHO.
Although the quality of public health options in New Zealand is generally very good, taking advantage of the public healthcare system often means long waits. Emergency care is efficient, but any elective care or care for non-urgent conditions can involve years of waiting. This is part of the reason for New Zealand’s switch to merged healthcare options.

Private Healthcare for Retirees in New Zealand

The U.S. government suggests that all Americans traveling abroad ensure that their private insurance covers overseas healthcare costs. Many American insurance companies do cover health care abroad, but you usually have to pay up front and apply for reimbursement.
If your insurance provider doesn’t cover overseas costs, consider switching companies before moving to New Zealand. A number of private insurance companies in New Zealand accept foreign customers, however some restrictions apply to applicants with pre-existing conditions.
Excellent healthcare is one of the many benefits of retiring in New Zealand.