Are you entitled to Public Health benefits?


Firstly, the good news! Everyone in New Zealand (including visitors) is covered if they have an accident.

For example, if you have a motor smash, fall off a mountain or a bicycle, or simply get drunk and break a leg when you fall down some steps you are covered by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), a Government agency.

For serious accidents, public hospitals provide a free (to you) service which is funded by ACC. If you have a minor injury, most people will typically attend a private clinic where they will be required to pay a modest part charge.

New Zealand has a “no fault” accident system which means that you can claim from ACC for medical treatment and lost earnings resulting from an accident but can’t sue someone else who may be at fault. It also means that you can’t be sued if you accidentally injure someone else.

Most medical claims, however, arise from non-accidental causes and are NOT covered by ACC.

You become entitled to FREE Public Health benefits ONLY when you have been granted NZ Residency OR if you have been granted a current work visa that:

  1. Entitles you to remain in New Zealand for 2 or more years OR
  2. Entitles you to remain in New Zealand for less than 2 years IF you have already been lawfully in New Zealand (e.g. on a visitor or student visa) so that in total you are entitled to live continuously in New Zealand for at least 2 years

Please note that a dependent spouse/partner who does NOT have a work permit in their own right is NOT eligible for public health benefits EXCEPT for maternity services.

Your dependent children, aged 17 or less, are entitled to free public health benefits if you are entitled to them.

If your work permit expires, and you were previously entitled to public health benefits, you remain eligible to claim them as long as you remain legally in New Zealand on an interim visa.

Australian Citizens who have lived in New Zealand for 2 years (or can prove that they intend to live in New Zealand for 2 years) are fully eligible for public health services.

Visitors who are Australian Citizens are entitled to claim public health benefits only if they suffer an acute condition like a heart attack.

UK passport holders who have been resident in the UK for at least 2 years immediately before coming to New Zealand are covered under the reciprocal health agreement between the UK and NZ Governments. Please note that this agreement provides extremely limited access to services in life threatening conditions. As an example of what is NOT covered: extreme pain (like gall stones) does NOT qualify for free treatment and can result in huge medical bills.

All visitors to New Zealand are strongly advised to take out travel insurance.

So, tell us how we can help you.