When deciding whether or not to study in a nation, it is a wise decision to get a feel for the health care landscape in the country you may potentially call home for several years. Will, as a condition of my visa, I be required to have health insurance? How well-funded are the public health care facilities? In the case of a nation like New Zealand, with its robust public health care system, most questions should not focus on the quality of care, but rather the access to that care. What of medical insurance in New Zealand? Do most citizens of the country opt for public coverage, or private health insurance in New Zealand? What will I need in order to access the high quality medical treatment of New Zealand's care providers?
Although a mandated requirement for holding a student visa, health insurance in New Zealand is a relatively new phenomenon. The small island nation is home to a well-funded public health care system to which all New Zealanders have access. All medical fees associated with accidents and accidental injuries are completely covered by the ACC, Accident Compensation Corporation, and fees associated with medications are heavily subsidized. The truth is, most New Zealanders are free to access top quality medical care, regardless of socioeconomic status. However, the extensive system of public hospitals and care providers has given rise to the primary issue plaguing the public health care system of New Zealand: excruciating wait times associated with non-emergency procedures. In fact, some New Zealanders who choose to utilize the public hospital system will find themselves waiting nearly four months for non-emergency operations!
The aforementioned situation has lead to the emergence of private health insurance in New Zealand. Though, these private entities account for only 33% of the country's medical expenditures, over 80% of New Zealanders hold some form of supplementary medical insurance. Private health insurance in New Zealand allows those who purchase it to bypass the extremely long waits associated with public facilities, without compromising on the quality of care. Moreover, dental procedures are not covered by public forms of health insurance in New Zealand, meaning private health insurance is the only way to avoid paying high out-of-pocket fees for visits to the dentist's office. It is important to note that there are very few private hospitals in New Zealand, and that all hospital and specialist visits are covered by public medical insurance if they are the product of a referral from a general or family practitioner-- this means that private health insurance in New Zealand deals primarily with the level of visits to general practitioners or dentists.
Not only must international students purchase health insurance in New Zealand as a central condition to their holding a student visa, it is also a wise and practical move given the manner in which the nation's complex health care system is rigidly structured. Purchasing additional private health insurance in New Zealand allows international students to access high quality health care with no worries regarding gaps in coverage or high out-of-pocket expenses during their stay in the beautiful country of New Zealand.