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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Financial support for health costs

Most people on low incomes with long-term health conditions (that last longer than six months) can apply for financial help. This is to cover or partially cover general practice fees and other health-related costs.

Children and adults with disabilities can apply for disability allowances. There are also other options for specific health conditions.

This online guide from the Ministry of Social Development helps you work out what financial help you might be entitled to.

The following sections provide information about sources of financial support for health costs.


On this page

Funding schemes at your general practice

Disability Allowance

Child Disability Allowance

Carer Support

Prescription subsidy scheme

Transport and parking

Other sources

Funding schemes at your general practice

If you struggle to meet your health costs, talk to your GP. There is sometimes extra funding available. Your GP may be able to use this to reduce the cost of your health care. This is especially likely if you have health conditions that mean you need regular care from your GP.

People with a Community Services Card and their dependants aged 14 to 17 who are enrolled with a general practice pay less for their visits to see a doctor or nurse. A few practices aren't enrolled in the scheme yet, so check with your own practice.

Children under 14 who are enrolled with a general practice aren't charged a fee for visits to most general practices. See Zero fees for under-14s for more information.

Disability Allowance

If you have a disability that is likely to last for at least six months, you may be eligible for a disability allowance. This is a means-tested Work and Income (WINZ) benefit. It can help to pay for a wide range of health-related costs, including GP fees.

WINZ may also provide funding for other treatment, such as physiotherapy and counselling. They will provide this funding if they believe the treatment is related to your disability.

To be eligible, your weekly income must be below a threshold. The threshold depends on several things, including whether you have a partner or children.

You can apply for a disability allowance on behalf of a child if they're 18 or under and financially dependent on you. You may be able to get both the Disability Allowance and the Child Disability Allowance for the same child.

For more information, see Disability Allowance on the Work and Income (WINZ) website.

Child Disability Allowance

The Child Disability Allowance is a fortnightly payment made to the main carer of a child or young person with a serious disability. It's paid in recognition of the extra care and attention that the child needs.

You may get a Child Disability Allowance if your child needs constant care and attention for at least 12 months because of a serious disability. You and your child also have to meet other criteria.

You may be able to get both the Disability Allowance and the Child Disability Allowance for the same child.

For more information, see Child Disability Allowance on the Work and Income (WINZ) website.

Carer Support

If you provide more than four hours per day of unpaid care to a disabled person, you may be eligible for Carer Support.

Carer Support is a subsidy that helps you take some time out for yourself. It reimburses some of the costs of using a support person to care and support a disabled person while you have a break.

For more information, see Carer Support on the Ministry of Health website.

Prescription subsidy scheme

Most medicines are subsidised by the government so you do not have to pay for the medicines you receive.

You have to pay a co-payment for prescriptions from specialists and non-publicly funded prescribers. The Prescription subsidy scheme means you and your whānau (family) do not need to pay this prescription change once you've paid for 20 items each year. Tell your pharmacist the names of all the people in your whānau who are getting prescriptions so they can keep track of how many prescriptions you pay for.

Transport and parking

Mobility parking permits

If you have a medical condition that affects your mobility, you may be eligible for a mobility parking permit. See Mobility Parking for information about the eligibility criteria for a mobility parking permit and how to apply for and renew a permit.

Total Mobility scheme

The Total Mobility discounted taxi fare scheme provides a discount of usually 50% off the normal taxi fare. You will need a recent photo to apply for a card. There is also an administration charge for processing the card and an annual fee.

St John Health Shuttle

St John offers a Health Shuttle service that can take you to essential medical and health-related appointments and bring you home again. It is available between Ashburton and Christchurch and Amberley and Christchurch.

National Travel Assistance Scheme

The National Travel Assistance Scheme may help pay for some travel costs if you are referred by your specialist to see another specialist at a different location.

If you are eligible, you may get financial help towards your travel and accommodation costs. Your specialist will need to approve your accommodation and specialised transport needs.

You may be eligible for travel assistance if you can answer yes to any of the following:

For more information about eligibility, see Who can get travel assistance.

Other sources

New Zealand Veterans' Affairs may be able to help with the cost of treatment and rehabilitation for specific medical conditions due to service.

The Ministry of Health provides a range of subsidies, but many of these are paid to the supplier of the service or prosthesis.

You can find information about free or subsidised services for specific conditions in the sections about those conditions on this website.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2021.

Page reference: 58024

Review key: HISNY-105442