How does ACC and the Public Health System work in New Zealand? Healthcare in New Zealand is a mixture of free and subsidised services. In order to understand the system, health care needs to be split into two areas, medical events such as heart attack, stroke or the flu and an accident like breaking your leg while skiing.

Living in New Zealand has its health benefits – ACC is a no-fault Accident Insurer, in effect ACC will pay for the medical costs associated with an accident. The public health system provides a good level of healthcare support for acute care.

Let’s take a closer look at the public health system and its benefits.

Free Health care in New Zealand

Visits to the Doctor are free for children under the age of 14, for other age groups; however, GP visits do cost. Free or subsidised healthcare in New Zealand is only available to New Zealand residents; some exceptions exist for visitors from Australia or the UK. To find out if you are eligible for free or subsidised health services in NZ, you can find out on the Ministry of Health website here.

Accidents however are covered under ACC, sometimes fully covered and sometimes only partially for the likes of after-hours GP visits. Irrespective of your residency status you’ll receive the same cover as everyone else if you have an injury while visiting New Zealand


In most cases, if you have an accident, you won’t have to pay anything towards care after the accident, this is due to ACC. ACC is a government agency that provides personal injury cover for all New Zealand residents. ACC also covers patients that may need emergency treatment because of an accident. ACC can help contribute towards a range of medical costs resulting from an injury, such as doctors’ visits, treatments, surgeries, and X-Rays.

Applying for ACC

Applying for ACC is simple. The medical specialist who treats you will tell you if your injury is likely to be covered and will ask you to complete a form so they can lodge a claim after your first visit.  ACC will then get back to you to let you know if your claim is covered. If your claim is not covered, that is when private Health Insurance covers come in handy!  

This is where it is essential you understand how personal medical insurance and personal insurances, such as Income Protection work with ACC.


With an ACC claim, you will most likely have to pay something towards the claim, and they will pay the difference. The amount you pay depends on the treatment and provider. If the provider asks you to pay in full, keep your receipts – you may be able to claim some of the cost if your claim is accepted. 

If possible, make sure your claim has been approved before you undertake any expensive treatment. ACC will not guarantee payment for treatments they have not approved. Ask your treatment provider for a cost estimate for the claim request form. 

It is also important to remember that ACC covers 80 percent of your income in the event of an accident that prevents you from working. However, it does not provide an alternative income for you or your family in the event of sickness, trauma, or certain kinds of disability, so having insurance in place is essential to cover the unforeseen costs.

To find out more about how the public health system works in New Zealand, click here. If you want to find out how we can help you get the right protection for the unexpected, don’t hesitate to contact us.