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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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What free or subsidised health care am I eligible for?

Anyone can call:

  • Healthline free on 0800 611 116 for advice and information from a trusted registered nurse. You can call anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is free for everyone.
  • 1737 (or text) to talk to a trained counsellor, this is free for everyone.
  • 111 in the event of a medical emergency. Note there may be fees for ambulance services. If you are not eligible for New Zealand publicly-funded health care, you may need to pay for ongoing medical treatment, so ensuring you have the right travel insurance is highly recommended. If you are visiting New Zealand and have had an accident, the costs of your care may be covered by ACC - find out more. 

If you're eligible, you may have access to free or subsidised health, maternity and disability services in New Zealand.

Publicly funded healthcare includes:

  • inpatient and outpatient treatment at public hospitals

  • hospital care if you have an accident

  • disability support services

  • subsidies on prescriptions

  • fertility services and maternity care.

Find out more here.

In general - as described here - services in primary care, such as going to your GP, will have a fee associated with it, while referrals to publicly funded hospitals and specialists are free for eligible people.

You may be eligible for these free or subsidised services if you are:

  • a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident

  • an Australian citizen or permanent resident who’s lived, or intends to live, in NZ for at least two years

  • on a work visa holder who's eligible to be here for two years or more

  • under 17 and your parent or guardian is eligible

  • an interim visa holder who was eligible immediately before you got the interim visa

  • a New Zealand Aid Programme student receiving Official Development Assistance funding

  • a commonwealth scholarship student

  • a refugee or protected person, or in the process of applying or appealing for refugee or protection status

  • a victim of people trafficking.

Overseas visitors may also be eligible for free care in the following circumstances:

  • Following an accident, if accepted by ACC.
  • They have been admitted to hospital under a compulsory treatment order issued under the Tuberculosis Act 1948, the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 or the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act 1966.

If you are visiting from Australia or the United Kingdom, aspects of your care may be covered by reciprocal agreements with those countries. New Zealanders travelling to those countries are also entitled to a similar level of free care. Note that there are a range of services that are not publicly funded, and these differ between countries. As neither reciprocal agreement provides full coverage, travellers should hold comprehensive travel insurance, including health insurance.

Being eligible doesn’t mean that you’re automatically entitled to receive a service — many services have their own criteria you’ll need to meet. For additional information on free health care in New Zealand see ‘Getting publicly funded health services’ on the New Zealand Government site.

The Government strongly recommends that all people in New Zealand who are not eligible for publicly funded health services hold full travel insurance, including health insurance. 

Non-NZ residents will be required to provide proof of eligibility for publicly funded health services, such as a passport. Those who cannot provide proof will need to pay for the health services they receive.


National Travel Assistance

Some people who need to travel to medical appointments and procedures may be eligible for National Travel Assistance. This can help with the costs of travel and accommodation. Find out more here.


Other entitlements you might be eligible for

There are a wide range of specific subsidies that might apply to you. Find out more here.

What happens if I am not eligible for free or subsidised health care, but I need it?

If your condition is an emergency, we will provide care for you.

In some cases, such as if your condition is the result of accident, the cost of your care may be covered by ACC.

If you are ineligible for free treatment, an invoice will be given to you at your appointment with your health care provider, or on discharge from hospital, and arrangements will be made for payment.