Visiting a doctor

IT'S FREE TO ENROL
It’s free to register or enrol with a GP - but they may charge a consultation fee each time you go to see them after that.

GPs normally charge a higher fee, often called a casual rate, for patients that aren’t enrolled at their practice.

If you enrol with a GP, your care will be subsidised — so you’ll pay a reduced consultation fee.

WHO CAN ENROL?
GPs can only enrol people who are eligible for publicly funded health services. When you enrol, you may be asked to show proof of eligibility - such as your passport or birth certificate. You’ll be asked to sign an enrolment form.

CHOOSING YOUR GP
To check where you’re currently enrolled, call the Ministry of Health on 0800-458-448. In New Zealand, you can choose the doctor or medical centre that you visit.

For a list of GPs and their fees, check the website of your local district health board (DHB), and/or primary health organisation (PHO).

The New Zealand Medical Council has a register of practising GPs and advice on choosing a doctor.

A GP may ‘close their books’ if they can’t safely take on any more patients. If this happens, the GP should refer you to their PHO for help with finding a GP. The PHO may put you on a waiting list and arrange for you to get care in the meantime.

YOUR MEDICAL RECORD
Your medical record is kept with the GP you’re enrolled with, but any health professional involved in your care can look at your record.

You can ask to look at your record at any time. The Privacy Commissioner website has advice on health privacy.

WHAT YOU'LL PAY
Doctors’ practices and medical centres are privately owned and set their own fees.

The cost of a visit will be lower if you’re enrolled with the GP, because the Government subsidises the fee.

Some general practices join a ‘low cost access’ programme run by their primary health organisation. This means they get extra government funding to keep their fees at low levels.

ZERO FEES FOR UNDER-13s
From 1 July 2015, all children under 13 become eligible for free general practice visits, both during the day and after-hours. Not all GPs may provide free visits, so check with your GP first.

COMMUNITY SERVICES CARDS AND HIGH USE HEALTH CARDS
If you’re visiting a medical centre where you’re not enrolled, you’ll pay less if you have a Community Services Card or High Use Health Card. (If you are enrolled at the centre, your fee will already be lower because it is subsidised by the Government.)

Check the Ministry of Social Development website or call 0800-559-009 to see if you’re eligible for a Community Services Card.

AFTER-HOURS CARE
After-hours care usually costs more.

CARE PLUS
If you have a long-term health condition or a terminal illness, you may be eligible for Care Plus.

GPs get extra government funding for Care Plus patients, so can provide additional care at no further cost to the patient.

OTHER FEES
Immunisation is free for all children, even if they aren’t usually eligible for publicly funded health services. GPs can charge a fee for services provided outside of a consultation, such as a repeat prescription or referral letter to a specialist.

If you're sick and it's not an emergency, you should visit a family doctor (or general practitioner (GP))

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