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Healthcare in New Zealand

Healthcare in New Zealand is funded through general taxation, therefore residents receive free or subsidised medical care. Similarly to the UK the standards of healthcare in New Zealand are very  high, although private healthcare is also available. To receive free healthcare, expats must have a work permit or a permanent residence permit. The work permits must be issued for a minimum of 24 months before the individual can qualify for state subsidised healthcare.

Best Health Insurance New Zealand

Looking for health insurance in New Zealand? Here are some of the main health insurance companies for foreigners, so you can find which is right for you:

In the spotlight


Pacific Prime
Allianz Care
International Citizens Insurance

1. nib

As one of the largest private health insurance companies in New Zealand. They offer plans for both Kiwis and expats, which include hospital plans, extra plans (such as dental care, optician or physiotherapy) and a combination of both.

Trusted New Zealand health insurance company that offers comprehensive coverage.

Plans and Benefits

BenefitBasic Essential Hospital PlusSilver HospitalGold Top Hospital
Inpatient CareCoveredCoveredCovered
Outpatient CareNoNoNo
Prescription CostsNoNoNo
Emergency Medical EvacuationCoveredCoveredCovered

2. International Medical Group (IMG)

IMG is a trusted provider of international insurance benefits and assistance services, with over 25 years of experience. They serve over 3 million members worldwide and offer a wide range of programs – international private medical insurance, travel insurance, insurance for administrative services and emergencies.

Plans and Benefits

Inpatient CareCoveredCoveredCovered
Outpatient CareLimitedCoveredCovered
DentalNoNoMax. 100$750$ per period of coverage. 50$ deductible
VisionNoNoNoMax. 100$ every 2 years
Prescription CostsCoveredCoveredCoveredCovered
Emergency Medical EvacuationCoveredCoveredCoveredCovered
Mental healthLimitedMax. 10000$Max. 50000$

3. Bupa

Bupa offers a wide scope of healthcare services, including health insurance, dental care, and optical care. They stand out for their personalized approach to customers, and they are committed to helping people live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Bupa provides plans for overseas workers that can cover basic needs to comprehensive and extra services.

Premium international health insurance provider with direct access to worldwide specialists.

Plans and Benefits

BenefitComprehensive Health InsuranceTreatment and Care Health Insurance
Inpatient CareCoveredCovered
Outpatient CareCoveredCovered
Prescription CostsOptionalNo
Emergency Medical EvacuationNoNo
Mental healthCoveredCovered

4. Now Health International

Now Health International is a leading provider of international health insurance. They’re known for their international customer service team and their competitive rates. Now Health International also has a global network of providers, so customers can get the care they need, no matter where they are in the world.

Plans and Benefits

BenefitSimpleCare CoreWorldCare EssentialWorldCare Apex
Inpatient CareLimitedCoveredCovered
Outpatient CareNoCoveredCovered
Prescription Costs
Emergency Medical EvacuationLimitedCoveredCovered

5. Cigna Global

Cigna Global is a well-known company trusted for its extensive healthcare providers and medical care coverage. While you can find cheaper providers, Cigna stands out by its flexible and adaptable policies tailored to your needs, providing different levels of coverage. They are committed to offering a good customer experience and assistance throughout your stay.

Plans and Benefits

Inpatient CareCoveredCoveredCoveredCovered
Outpatient CareCoveredCoveredCoveredCovered
Prescription CostsCan varyCan varyCan varyCan vary
Emergency medical evacuationOptionalOptionalOptionalOptional

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Public and private healthcare in New Zealand

Although residents and workers qualify for free healthcare, similarly to the UK, not everything is free. Dental care for example does not come under the category of free health care.

Public health care

Public health care works like the UK, it gives residents access to free hospital-based care, as well as emergency treatment. Other free medical services include:

  • standard medical tests
  • children’s immunisations
  • prescription medication for children under six years old.

Purchases of prescription drugs, visits to a general practitioner and ambulance services are subsidised by the government-funded program called the Primary Health Organisation (PHO). Expats should sign up to PHO when they arrive as the application process can take up to 3 months. The biggest negative downside to state healthcare is the long waiting periods for non-emergency procedures. But being from the UK waiting is something we are good at.

Private health care

The main reason residents in New Zealand opt for private health care is to avoid waiting periods for non-emergency procedures. The price of private healthcare insurance is not that much compared to many other expat destinations, besides that the government recommends foreigners to take a private healthcare plan.

Although there are plentiful amounts of pharmacies in urban cities making most Western medicine available; however due to the small size of New Zealand as an island, it is advised that advanced care is carried out abroad. In terms of medical conditions individuals may have it is also advised to stock up on your medication before moving to the country.

Heal Hazards in New Zealand

New Zealand although neighbouring Australia has few more animals that can be deadly. It only has two rare species of poisonous spiders and there are no snakes. The main concern of New Zealand’s location is the occurrence of natural disasters.

Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic activity are common. The country is particularly prone to earthquakes ais are common to have very dangerous magnitude due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire. The numbers to write down for emergencies include:

  • Emergency number (fire, ambulance, police): 911
  • Healthline (free advice from trained nurses): 0800 611 116

New Zealand is a top destination for expats to move to. Free health care is a huge influence to move to New Zealand and you will soon get used to all the bugs!