New Zealand Health
New Zealand operates a world class health system which is a mixture of both public and private health providers.
There is no compulsory health insurance or 'Medicaid' type schemes in New Zealand with most health provision being funded through general taxation (around one of every three tax dollars paid to central Government is spent in this area). Increasingly however more New Zealanders have some sort of general or surgery specific private health insurance through choice.
New Zealand's population is aging with low birth rates and as in most developed countries this factor coupled with the ever increasing cost of advanced medical technologies has meant increasing fiscal and political pressure on the health system.
Direct health spending by the Government increased by over 50% between 2002 and 2005. Government health spending still represents a fairly modest 8% of Government spending.
Waiting lists exist for most elective i.e. non life threatening procedures as Hospitals prioritise their spending and this has forced some health consumers into the private sector health insurance providers in order to avoid waiting lists.
There is no doubting however that the New Zealand health system today offers a level of care which is the envy of most other developed countries and which serves its citizens (and new arrivals!) very well indeed.
All though New Zealanders tend to complain endlessly about the state of the public healthy system it would appear (based on my own experiences) that they have little to complain about by comparison to their counterparts in countries such as Australia and the United States.
New Zealand Health Costs: A Snapshot (if you are a New Zealand resident or holder of a long term work permit)
Funded by the tax payer i.e. to the consumer:
- Public hospital treatment
- 24-hour accident and emergency (A&E) care
- Visits to the doctor for children under six years (some Doctors may levy a small charge)
- Treatment of acute or chronic medical conditions
- Laboratory tests and X-rays
- Healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth
- Dental checks for school children
- Breast cancer screening for woman aged between 50 and 64
Subsidised by central Government are:
- Prescription charges: (maximum annual amounts per family apply) NZ$15 max
- Visit to family doctor:
- adult: NZ$35-55
- 6 to 17 years: NZ$20
- Visits to physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths (GP referred)