Reciprocal Health Agreements – What Do They Cover?

Reciprocal health agreements help keep you safe overseas. So which countries are Kiwis covered in, and what are they covered for? Canstar breaks down the ins and outs of reciprocal health care.

Reciprocal health agreements allow citizens from specific countries to receive partially (or fully) subsidised healthcare in other countries. However, there is a range of health services that are not covered, so it pays to be informed of what you might be covered for overseas.

What countries have reciprocal health care with NZ?

New Zealand has reciprocal health agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom. While you, as a New Zealand citizen, are covered for certain medical events in OZ and the UK so, too, are Australian and British citizens when visiting New Zealand.

Both nations offer varying levels of cover for New Zealanders, which are detailed below:

What am I covered for in Australia?

To be eligible for reciprocal health care in Australia you must be either a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident or other New Zealand resident.

If you’re visiting Australia from NZ, you’re automatically covered for some healthcare You do not need to enroll in Medicare, and won’t receive a Medicare card, but you are covered for:

  • Medically necessary care as a public patient (including public hospital inpatient/outpatient services)
  • Some prescription medicines at the general rate, covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

To receive healthcare at a public hospital or pharmacy, you will need to ask staff to treat you under the reciprocal healthcare agreement. You may need to provide your New Zealand passport as proof of you citizenship/residency.

However, if you are planning to live in OZ for six months or longer, it’s a good idea to enroll in Medicare.

What am I covered for in the UK?

To be eligible for reciprocal health care in the UK you must be either a New Zealand citizen, permanent resident or other New Zealand resident.

In the UK, you are covered for:

  • Urgent medical treatment for emergency conditions (that occur while in the UK)
  • Health subsidies when visiting a General Practitioner (GP) as a casual patient (if the GP decided the condition needs prompt attention)

If you are living permanently in the UK, work in the UK or are studying in the UK for more than six months, you’re covered for the full range of treatments that UK citizens are entitled to.

However, if you are staying in the UK on a visa for more than six months, you will have to pay an immigration health surcharge. It’s important to note that if you travel to the UK specifically for medical treatment, you will have to pay for it.

Do I need travel insurance?

While reciprocal health care covers some of your more urgent medical needs, it isn’t a replacement for travel insurance. For example, medical expenses including emergency transport and private specialists aren’t covered by reciprocal health care. So when travelling abroad, it’s always a good idea to be safe than sorry, and to take out travel insurance.

What travel insurance options are there?

Most travel insurance providers doesn’t have a separate insurance policy for the UK or Australia. Typically, you choose from a selection of standard policies, plus add-ons. While standard travel insurance policies remain fairly standardised, prices vary by country.

Each provider has its own policies. Some provide a single policy with many add-ons, while others might opt for several policy options (e.g. medical only, basic cover and comprehensive).

Here are some common travel insurance medical inclusions, to help you decide which ones are most relevant to you:

  • Emergency dental treatment
  • Private health insurance
  • Cover for pre-existing medical conditions
  • Accommodation and travel expenses due to illness or injury
  • Cover for epidemics and pandemics (including COVID19)
  • Emergency companion cover (cover for you if your travel partner gets ill or injured)
  • Funeral costs
  • Accidental death or permanent disablement

It’s important to note that some policies may allow you to adjust your level of cover for each inclusion.

Compare travel insurance with Canstar

Wherever you’re jetting off to in the world, arranging travel insurance before you leave is as essential as checking your passport is still valid. And to help you discover the best value cover, each year Canstar’s expert research panel awards the best travel insurance products and providers our Outstanding Value Travel Insurance Awards.

For coverage of this year’s winners and the complete rundown of our travel insurance star ratings, just hit the button below.

Compare travel insurance with Canstar

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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