New Zealand’s health system provides a high standard of care, at an overall cost which is modest by international standards. People who are accustomed to considering health systems based on either a “private, for-profit” or a “public” basis will find our system takes a little getting used to because it is a hybrid of those two, normally competing, models (with a few unique Kiwi bits thrown in).
A formal description of eligibility criteria for visitors to New Zealand can be found on the Ministry of Health site. This page touches on:
The New Zealand health system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. It pays to understand how the health system works so your experience is as good as it can be. We have set out an overview but bear in mind given dynamic changes in healthcare what is true today may not be tomorrow. Find all District Health Boards here
The backbone of New Zealand’s health system is a network of “Health Boards”, organised by region, providing high-quality hospital care and coordinated community health programmes (the Health Board system is being reviewed with the intention to centralise the decision making of healthcare programmes for the regions). Services from these Health Boards are taxpayer-funded, and costs are not charged directly to patients who are New Zealanders. While, clearly, not every single regional hospital can provide world-class services in every conceivable specialty, the system as a whole (with patient transfers between facilities required in some cases) does do so. It is the primary reason for New Zealand’s international reputation for excellence in health care.
One of the ways the publicly funded, free system achieves its efficiency is by engaging in a degree of “rationing” of non-essential services that allows a private, fee-for-service hospital system to thrive alongside the “free” public system. If you are faced with an immediate life-threatening illness or accident, you will receive immediate world-class care in the public system. But if faced by an “elective” (that is, not immediately life-threatening) problem, say a hernia or varicose veins, you may find yourself on a “waiting list” for service in the public system, in which case you may elect to have immediate treatment in a private hospital. This private system is supported by a non-compulsory health insurance industry, to which many New Zealanders subscribe. The growth of the private sector is not subject to Government control, so, to a degree, the demand for urgency of any particular form of treatment can be a matter of perception or public opinion. For example, quite complex heart surgery may be undertaken in either the Public or Private sectors, depending on patient choice.
Doctors may work in either public or private systems, or even often in both, at the same time. Your specialist, available in their comfortable private rooms, on a fee-for-service basis, may be the same person whom you would see at the Public Hospital, for free, at a weekly clinic. The quality of care you receive will be first-class in either system. The difference will be the speed with which and the location at which you receive treatment if your condition is not life-threatening.
Primary Health care (your local General Practitioner) is almost exclusively provided by the private sector. Your attendance at your local doctor is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer, with the doctor retaining the right to charge you a little extra. Some choose to exist entirely on their subsidy (providing you free care). Others charge modest fees. Few charge fees at a level that would be considered normal in overseas systems. You can elect to take private insurance to cover the modest cost of these GP fees, if you wish. If you require a referral to a specialist, your GP will normally give you the choice of being referred to a private or a public service.
Prescription charges are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. If your doctor prescribes beyond approved lists you may find yourself incurring higher costs, but that is not true for most prescriptions. Once again, insurance can be used to cover all or part of these modest costs.
Whether you interface with the New Zealand health system because of an illness or an accident, you will get the same high quality of care. But behind the scenes, the way your costs are funded is different. In the case of illness, the government funds the cost through the tax base. In the case of an accident, however, there is a unique New Zealand system based on the presumption that people do not mean to cause accidents and that suing each other makes lawyers rich but seldom fixes problems. New Zealanders have given away the right to sue each other for “causing” accidents and have placed the task of putting things right in the hands of a public corporation funded by a levy on salaries and the cost of licensing motor vehicles. When an injury occurs as a result of an accident, treatment occurs in the health system as described above but is funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation. Their interest continues through all stages of recovery and rehabilitation, to the provision, if necessary, of long term care and retraining. The focus is on full rehabilitation, not cash compensation. ACC also accepts responsibility for accident prevention programmes, and employers are incentivised to provide safe workplaces through variable levies based on accident records. This system applies whether the accident was work, home or sport-related and irrespective of who “caused” it.
There is no special registration procedure you will need to follow. Just by being in New Zealand and by being in need of treatment, you will be accepted and cared for. (Although, see notes below, about temporary visitors). You do need to register with your local General Practitioner as soon as possible, especially if you have children. Provide your health history and participate in the readily available publicly funded vaccination and primary health programmes.
Consider whether you and your family want health insurance or not, and if so, at what level. It is your choice, it is not compulsory. Shop around for the plan that best suits your budget and circumstances.
Visitors to New Zealand will always be given treatment, if needed. If that is the result of an accident, our ACC scheme will cover the costs (but you will not have the right to sue). If the treatment is needed as a result of illness, you will be asked to pay the costs you incur (except for residents of the UK and Australia, in which case there are government to government reciprocal arrangements in place). For persons on Work Visas, many but not all, will be eligible to free healthcare. Travel insurance is strongly recommended for non-residents visiting New Zealand.
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From September 2022 people holding job offers in a small number of occupations may apply for residence. Some occupations are a direct pathway to residence and others require a period of two years or longer before applying.
There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Establishing if an overseas qualification matches the NZ equivalent qualification before applying is paramount for success.
The work visa categories set to close are:
*Excludes high-risk countries.
*Excludes high-risk countries.
A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.
The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.
People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:
Is this the only requirement to qualify for residence? No. In addition to the eligible work visa criteria workers also need to be regarded as one of the following:
The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:
The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.
The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.
Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.
Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.
From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.
From 1 November 2021
The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.
Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.
Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.
The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.
The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.
From 19 July 2021
From 30 June 2021
Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.
From mid-2020 (delayed)
Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.
From 15 February 2021
The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.
From 7 October 2020
The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:
Aged or disabled carer, Bicycle mechanic, Driller and Nursing Support worker.
From 27 July 2020
Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.
From 27 May 2020
The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.
Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:
From 7 October 2019
From 24 February 2020