At some stage you are going to need to visit a doctor, so I suggest that you go ahead and register with one once you’ve arrived. If you completed all our research prior as recommended earlier in this blog, you would have realised that there is no free national health system in New Zealand. It has a government subsidised health system and you will be required to pay a fee. After a few visits to your doctor, you may well appreciate the often poorly portrayed National Health Service (NHS) for what it does deliver.
You will want to find all the doctor surgeries close by to where you are living when making your choice. You can register with any doctor of your choice, there are no boundary areas as there are in the UK, but you will probably want to choose a doctor local to you. What you will need to take into account is that different surgeries charge slightly different fees, so you will want to find out about this beforehand. Also waiting times for appointments can still be long despite this being a paid, sorry subsidised service, so enquire about the average waiting times and whether emergency appointments are offered for children. You will need to take into account that all doctor visits will need to be paid for, even for children and payment is required on the day of the visit. You will need to budget for these additional expenses as a necessity when you have to see the doctor. Believe me, you do think twice before calling up and making that doctors appointment, and that that belly ache is just a belly ache and not the start of some incurable disease.
In the course of the year my daughter attended the doctor’s surgery a total of five times, attended Accident and Emergency (A&E) once and had a surgical procedure. A&E can get very clogged up as the treatment is free. I will hasten to add that we did not attend for the free treatment by the way; she really was in acute pain. It was fortuitous that I had decided to transfer our private health cover to an international healthcare provider prior to leaving. This meant that I was able to claim back on all doctor fees, our health cover paid for physio therapy that my daughter needed and it covered her surgical treatment. If any member of the family is a frequent flyer to the doctors, as my daughter was, you may want to consider taking out a private health policy that will cover you in your new destination.
If anything was going to happen, it was going to happen to my daughter who can be quite accident prone at the best of times. In the course of her normal day to day activities, her left leg locked and for some reason she was not able to move it. It was stiff, locked as tight as a rusty bolt to a tightly beaded screw. So it was off to the doctors who tried to manipulate her leg in order to help her to get it moving again but this was to no avail. Thereafter, we had multiple visits to the orthopedic surgeon, who also couldn’t figure out this medical mystery. He offered to place her leg in a
cast behaving that some trauma was prevalent and that it needed time to heal on its own. We refused this option preferring instead weeks of physiotherapy whilst she hobbled along on crutches around the school for several weeks. I am not sure what caused this mystery illness as no organic cause could be found but I wonder if this was her bodies way of expressing the stress of the move across the world and manifesting by closing down this major part of her body. She is walking again and has returned to normal activities with no other intervention — we just had to wait and let
the body heal itself.
Another health area that you may find yourself comparing is in regard to dental treatment. New Zealand does offer children free basic dental care until they’re 18, but otherwise dentists aren’t part of the free public health system. As a general guide, dentists can charge around NZ$85 for a check-up. A few weeks into our arrival, I had the misfortune as one of my dental fillings cracked. So I took myself off reluctantly to the dentist. After the initial consultation, I was informed that it would cost in the region of NZ$2000 for a crown. I opted to have the tooth removed mainly due to
the costs, a decision that is bared by my crooked grin after years of straight smiling whites. Thank you, New Zealand, for altering my smile. Many medical insurance policies give you the option to cover dental care too or this is another area that you may wish to put aside for in savings.
If you think that your child will require orthodontic work at some stage, then I suggest that you save and then save and save even more. The cost of this treatment doesn’t come cheap. Although my daughter had had her orthodontic braces fitted prior to leaving the UK and was almost at the end of her treatment, I still had to come up with almost NZ$1500 for about
three visits to continue the treatment — a lot of money for pink elastics and a tightening of wires.
By now you have a place to live, a job to bring in the bacon, sorted out all the financial and practical matters. The children are all settled into school and you are all doing well on the health front. Time to sit back and enjoy your dream… well not quite, you need to get over homesickness and get through that first winter to prove that you are a hardy Kiwi.
I’m Jenny and I whilst I love being an expat in Auckland I could not find any reliable advice or guides online from someone who had actually made the move to New Zealand. So I decided to create this blog which offers free advice for expats by an expat. Hopefully you will find everything you’re looking for (and what I wish I knew before) here but if you can’t please do contact us.