Health care policies are different in every country, and depending on your views on health care and government involvement, you may prefer one country over another. In this month’s health policy blog, I’m diving into New Zealand. My previous two blogs focused on Luxembourg and Japan, two counties that have significant government involvement. Now let’s focus on New Zealand, one of the most active countries in the world.
Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health is accountable for the oversight of New Zealand’s health care, including the district health boards (DHBs). According to the Ministry of Health’s website, DHBs plan, manage, provide and purchase health services for the population of their district to ensure services are arranged effectively and efficiently for all of New Zealand. The health services the DHBs provide include hospital services, primary care, aged care, public health services, and other non-government health providers.
The Ministry of Health also offers a variety of services including information on numerous conditions and treatments, tips on healthy living, pregnancy and children’s services, and support for mental health, alcohol abuse, and many more conditions and concerns. For example, the Ministry of Health has numerous health programs that prevent illness and increase activeness.
Other than health emergencies, the first point of health care contract is with a general practitioner (GP). In New Zealand, GPs work in groups and operate out of a Medical Centre. All 3,500 GPs are fully trained medical doctors that can advise you and refer you for further tests or specialist treatment if needed, either in the public and private healthcare providers.
Public vs. Private
New Zealand has both private and public health care services. Typically, hospitals and specialist care are covered the by the government if you are referred by a GP. While there is public health care, many New Zealanders purchase private health insurance to cover additional costs and to receive care in private hospitals and providers. Those with private health insurance are still eligible for free public health. There are other government-funded programs such as the Community Service Card (CSC) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The CSC is a document issued to those earning low incomes to receive discounts on various services, including healthcare. The ACC is a universal no-fault accidental injury service that provides financial compensation and support to citizens, residents, and temporary visitors who have suffered personal injuries.
New Zealand offers a mixture of government-funded health care services as well as plenty of private providers. While health care costs may be higher for individuals in New Zealand than some other countries, their government does put a focus on helping their citizens stay healthy and active. Be sure to check back next month for another health policy analysis!
Robert Desai is an successful equities investor in Massachusetts, and also spent time in the medical field. Check out his investing website or follow him on Twitter for the latest healthcare policy blogs!