A hugely important area into which students planning on studying abroad in New Zealand must be sure to research is the health care system in their new country of residence, which may differ significantly from that of their home country. For those students considering studying in New Zealand, a familiarity with the country's mixed public/private health care system can aid in preventing any unnecessary confusion from arising during a medical situation.
International students will be required to purchase insurance that grants them access to the public component of the healthcare system.
The health care system in New Zealand is highly respected, and consists of public and private components. The public part of the system, which is funded through general taxation and managed by regional agencies known as “District Health Boards”, represents the primary means of medical treatment in New Zealand. According to the highly structured guidelines of the health care system in New Zealand, international students will be required to purchase insurance that grants him or her access to the public component of the healthcare system through a particular provider. The standard structure for receiving medical treatment in New Zealand is for individuals to contact general practitioners (who serve as primary care providers and are assigned to handle all non-emergency medical situations), who may then make referrals to specialists if required. In the case of international students, these primary providers are the host university's medical center.
Through the public component of the health care system in New Zealand, the medical costs associated with prescription medications and treatments for the full spectrum of mental and physical trauma from accidents are either completely covered or subsidized to the point of reducing the cost to a $3-$30 co-pay. Also, costs associated with hospital stays and visits to specialists are completely covered or heavily subsidized if either are the result of a referral from a general practitioner. However, it is important for students studying in New Zealand to remember that visits to the dentist are not covered in most locations under the country's free public health care options. Instead, both residents and visitors alike who require a visit to the dentist must utilize one of the country's private dental practices, with prices beginning at over $80 for a checkup.
There are some downsides to the well-funded public component of the health care system in New Zealand, with notoriously long waits associated with non-emergency medical treatment topping the list. Perhaps the primary drawback to the country's system, international students who desire to bypass the typically long waits and rigid referral structure associated with public health care in New Zealand are free to utilize a number of private options. However, all individuals utilizing private options for medical treatment in New Zealand - resident or visitor - are required to pay full cost for any services or procedures.
Health care in New Zealand can be complicated; there are a multitude of governmental agencies overseeing the rigidly structured system of subsidies and providers. The public health care system in New Zealand is typified by high quality care, but long wait periods for elective or non-emergency procedures. Private health care options in New Zealand can be a costly, yet effective, way to avoid the waits associated with the country's public providers. In either case, being sufficiently insured through one of a number of providers is the absolute best way to expedite receiving non-emergency medical treatment in New Zealand.