NZ Health System

Live and Work New Zealand - Healthcare

New Zealand’s public healthcare system gives access to free or heavily subsidised hospital care as well as emergency treatment. In order to access public healthcare you need to be a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident or be on a work visa that has a duration of two years or more. To find out if you are eligible, please click visit the Guide to eligibility for public health services.

NB: The government strongly recommends that people in New Zealand who are not eligible for publicly funded health services hold comprehensive travel insurance, including health insurance.

If you qualify for free public healthcare, here is what you can expect from the country's public health system:

  • free treatment at a public hospital
  • reduced prescription fees
  • reduced fees for visits to general practitioners (GPs) (see below about enrolling with a general practice)
  • reduced fees for specialist care such as physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths when referred by a GP for an accident
  • free or reduced costs for healthcare if you have a serious medical condition
  • no charge for most laboratory tests and x-rays, except at privately operated clinics
  • no charge for healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth, unless provided by the private medical sector
  • apart from the initial consultation fee, no charge for GP referrals to a public hospital for treatment
  • reduced or no fees for children under 14 years for visits to the doctor and for prescriptions
  • free breast screening for women aged between 45 and 69 years

NZ residents can also choose to take up private medical insurance although many chose not to take out this additional cover.

The government's no-fault scheme, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) covers accidents that occur in New Zealand. If your accident is relatively minor or something more serious, ACC will help pay for medical, treatment fees and rehabilitation costs incurred by any accident or injury.

A family doctor or GP is normally your first point of contact with the New Zealand health system. It is important to enroll with a GP as soon as you can. Most GPs practice within a medical centre located in the suburbs therefore most people go to their local medical centre for general healthcare issues.

Located on campus, the University Health Centre provides excellent medical and related services to the students, staff and the wider community of the University.  The Centre aims to provide services that are affordable, accessible and of high quality. Travel vaccinations, smoking cessation and free flu jabs are just an example of the services that are available to staff at UC.

The University of Canterbury values the health and wellbeing of its staff and has a Group Health Insurance Scheme with Southern Cross, a private healthcare group.  This is available to all continuing staff members and those on Fixed Term Agreements exceeding two years in duration. The scheme provides discounted premium for you, your spouse and children. If you are interested in joining, or you are an existing Southern Cross member and would like to transfer, see the attached for further information or contact Southern Cross directly and state that you require information (or an appointment) about the University of Canterbury's Group Health Insurance Scheme. Phone: (0800) 800-181.

See this Southern Cross Flyer (PDF) for more information for UC staff.

At UC our staff are valuable to us, and we recognise that at times both personal and work related problems can interfere with our work life.

The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offers staff members access to voluntary, confidential, safe and professional counselling assistance.

The EAP service is free (for up to three sessions per issue) and is available to all continuing staff members, and fixed term staff members employed for six months or more.