Healthcare Services In New Zealand - Public Or Private?

Healthcare Services In New Zealand - Public Or Private?
Healthcare in New Zealand is divided into two sectors, public and private. The public healthcare hospital system is free to citizens and permanent residents in New Zealand and covers emergency services, consultant and diagnostic service, operations and aftercare. Visits to a local doctor, however, are not covered, although subsidies keep the cost to an average of NZ$60 per consultation.

Urgent medical or surgical treatment for life-threatening conditions is promptly provided but, due to a shortage of nurses and specialists as a result of a reform of the system, treatment of less urgent conditions may be subject to long waiting list delays, especially for major surgical procedures such as hip replacements.

For newly-arrived migrants or those on temporary visas, emergency healthcare in the case of accidental injuries or medical misadventure is covered via the Accident Compensation Corporation, funded by government decree with compulsory contributions from employers, employees and via higher car registration premiums.

All modern medications are offered by local pharmacies on a prescription basis, with discounts for those registered with community health groups or in possession of a high-user health card. Emergency services including ambulances are provided by St John New Zealand, except in Wellington, where the city's free Ambulance Service is supported by private donations and a public grant.

Private hospital groups have premises all over the country, and are the preferred option for many people, paid for by private health insurance and providing immediate treatment, thus avoiding the extended waiting times in the public sector. Private hospitals offer superior accommodation and meals, with well-equipped private rooms as standard and a higher nurse/patient ratio. Private healthcare is now a growing trend amongst the business community.

Dental treatment is not included in free public healthcare, and can be expensive, with insurance coverage for complicated maxillofacial treatments popular with Kiwis. Several New Zealand medical insurance schemes, including those offered by employers as an incentive, are non-profit, and a few insurers also own a chain of private hospitals, helping to keep costs down. Healthcare policy requirements are similar to those in Europe.

Alternative treatments and remedies such as homeopathy are allowed in New Zealand, although practitioners are not required to be registered with the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) and the sector operates on a private basis.

Auckland has its own Homeopathic Hospital and the sector is represented by the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths. Remedies can be purchased without prescription at pharmacies or from practitioners.