New Zealand has a very efficient health care system that you need to understand as an international student. Much of your care will be covered at a lesser rate than you would have in other countries, but you will still have to obtain some sort of supplemental care in order to get the full benefits of care; it is also required by every single university in the country.
New Zealand Healthcare System
There are a number of different things that are under the New Zealand health care system that you need to explore and understand so that you can utilize them while you are in the country. There are several plans that will cover you in different cases, even those cases that would be covered by your insurance anyway.
- The Accident Compensation Corporation actually takes care of anything that is considered to be an accident. This could include anything from medical malpractice, to vehicle accidents, to accidents that may occur while you’re on the job. This covers everyone who is in New Zealand legally, even if you are on a visa. The costs are covered by employers, taxes, car registration, and a number of other sources that go right into this government program.
- Primary care physicians and pharmacy programs are covered by the government as well. If you are not a native, you are going to have to pay a bit higher of a co-pay than you would have if you were a native of the country, but it’s not so much that it’s going to hurt you. In some cases, your private insurance plan can cover some of those costs as well.
- Emergency services are also low cost, and are provided through the St. John New Zealand charity. Some of the funds are public; others are provided through private, donated funders. This system is also low cost to free for those who are in the country as visitors. So, if something happens while you are in New Zealand and you need emergency surgery or any other type of emergency care, it will be covered.
- The public hospital system is actually a lot different than the other systems that you will see in New Zealand. The system is much, much better than public hospitals in other areas, likely because of how much money goes into them from the government. You will have to pay for public hospital services in New Zealand if you are on a student visa, which is why all schools require insurance for their international students. The main reason is because the system is popular and there are very long waiting lists for costly and/or difficult operations that may need to occur (unless they are urgent, life or death situations). There are a number of private hospitals out there as well, and they are organized in such a way that people can purchase insurance from them and not have to wait on those lists for medically necessary treatment.
In 2005, about 9% of the GDP was in the health care system, but almost 80% of that was spent by the government, showing you exactly how much money the government puts into the system. Health insurance is also much lower cost than other countries, at a cost of about $2000 per year per person. The reason for this, really, is because New Zealand residents have much better health than those in other countries. This could be due to the lack of stress, the great weather, or a number of other factors, but New Zealand residents take much less medication and require less overall health care than their counterparts in other parts of the world.
Information for student visa holders
If you are on a student visa, there are a number of things you need to understand for yourself. First, if you are disabled or have a debilitating illness (that does not prevent you from coming into the country in the first place), you may be eligible for health care from the government. These things (illness or disease) would have to make you eligible for similar benefits in your home country or in New Zealand, had you lived there at the time.
There are a number of things that you need to have in order to prove that you are eligible for health care under the system. You have to show them a few things in order to receive the health care; this is to prevent people who are not in the country legally from trying to obtain services.
- Visa information for the visa that you currently hold for residing in New Zealand. This includes any documentation from
- Immigration history, including the visas that you previously have had for New Zealand and other countries.
- Anything that helps to prove your identity as indicated on the letters. This can include any number of documents, from a driver’s license, a school identification card, your work contract, a rental lease, letters and/or bills addressed to you, or a passport.
If you have any children under the age of 17, and you are in the country legally, they will get publicly funded health care as long as you show the above information to the health care provider. Your partner, if pregnant, can also receive maternity services at no cost as long as they prove that they are your partner. If they are looking for other services, they will have to have their own insurance in order to cover those services.
No matter which school you attend as an international student, you are required to have supplemental health care in order to help alleviate the costs on the government for your school attendance. You can talk to your university or your current insurance agency in order to figure out the best course of action while you are studying in New Zealand. You can also contact the New Zealand Ministry of Health at their website; they will give you all the information that you need in order to be ready before your arrival in the country.