Changes to eligibility for free COVID-19 healthcare

From 13 February, you may need to pay for COVID-19-related visits to your healthcare provider. 

If you are at risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19 you will still get free healthcare. 

With the Omicron variant circulating, most people can recover at home. This is due to very high vaccination levels and widespread natural immunity. 

Additionally, with easy access to testing and self-isolation, we can focus on those who are more vulnerable. 

People eligible for free healthcare 

If you are at higher risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19, you are still eligible for free healthcare from your doctor. 

This protects those who are most at risk of getting very ill from COVID-19, including: 

  • people with certain high-risk medical conditions 
  • Māori 
  • Pacific peoples 
  • some disabled people 
  • those over the age of 65 
  • anyone else that meets the criteria for access to antiviral medicines 
  • refugees and asylum seekers 
  • people experiencing homelessness or who are in transitional housing 
  • people living in certain remote and rural locations who don’t have easy access to healthcare services 

For more information visit: www.covid19.govt.nz/prepare-and-stay-safe/people-at-higher-risk-of-severe-illness-from-covid-19/  

If you have COVID-19 

If you are eligible, you do not need to pay for COVID-19-related medical costs or healthcare when you first get COVID-19. 

If you develop long COVID and need further appointments, you will need to pay for your visits to your doctor as you normally would. This includes prescription dispensing fees. 

For more information visit: www.covid19.govt.nz/testing-and-isolation/if-you-have-covid-19/long-covid/  

If you require hospital-level care, it remains free. 

If you are isolating at home, you should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you need advice or guidance on managing your symptoms.  

You can also contact your local pharmacist or your healthcare provider if you need to see someone. 

For more information visit: www.covid19.govt.nz/testing-and-isolation/if-you-have-covid-19/    

Testing and vaccination remain free 

For more information on vaccines visit: www.covid19.govt.nz/covid-19-vaccines/  

Free rapid antigen tests (RATs) are available for everyone from participating collection centres. To find your nearest collection site visit: www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/…  

You can order your free RAT kit by phoning 0800 222 478 and press option 3 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week).  

The best ways to continue to protect yourself and others are: 

  • test when you are feeling unwell 
  • being up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations 
  • wearing a face mask. 

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