If you are entitled to residence in Auckland as anything other than a visitor, you are entitled to health care. Health care in New Zealand is provided by the state to all legal residents, workers and students in the country. There is no requirement to enrol in a government health program. The first time you attend a GP or hospital for treatment you will fill in some forms, and if you are a legal resident of New Zealand, (not here on a Visitor’s Visa) and you do not already have a NHI number allocated to you, one will be assigned to you. You do not need to apply for one in advance.
Every time you visit a hospital in New Zealand for treatment or emergency servicies, you complete an admittance form, this is standard practice most places in the World and New Zealand is no different. When attending your GP or a hospital, you do not need to know your NHI number or produce evidence of having an NHI number. All patients with previously allocated NHI numbers are stored in a cental system that is available to all medical professionals NZ-wide.
Dental care is provided free to students up to Year 8. After that, it is no longer covered by the government. Optical care is not covered by the government.
Supplemental private insurance is neither necessary nor required – however, it is not expensive (less than $200 a month for a family) and is recommended if you want to have complete freedom to choose the doctor, hospital and treatment options you want, when you want them. There is no need to affiliate yourself with a private hospital before you need one as space is not an issue with private care, and have your choice of any doctor you would like to see.
Dental and optical insurance are also available.
The following companies offer supplemental health insurance:
- Southern Cross – http://www.southerncross.co.nz
- Sovereign — http://www.sovereign.co.nz/
- State — http://www.state.co.nz (surgical coverage only)
- Tower – http://www.tower.co.nz
In addition to private medical insurance, there is the tax payer funded ACC system. This is New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme and it covers everyone, including visitors, for the cost of any treatment that is required as a result of an accident. http://www.acc.co.nz/. You do not need to apply for this program as your fees are automatically deducted from your earnings as part of the taxation system. If you are self-employed then you still need to pay the ACC earner’s levy. The ACC system prevents a litigious society so New Zealand does not have a system of being able to claim damages or compensation other than those which are actually required to pay bills.