The threshold for determining whether a health condition is considered ‘high-cost’ has been reviewed and will be set at $41,000 over five years (or the life of the condition – the clinical prognosis period - in the case of chronic recurring medical conditions).
The previous threshold, set in 2003, was $25,000 over four years (or the life of the condition in the case of chronic recurring medical conditions).
Other changes include minor updates to the list of low incidence tuberculosis (TB) countries, and conditions which disqualify applicants from consideration for a medical waiver.
The threshold for determining high-cost health conditions was last set in 2003, and has not been inflation-adjusted.
The change better reflects current prices, the more typical five-year clinical prognosis period applied by medical practitioners, and is comparable with thresholds set by countries such as Australia and Canada.
American Samoa and Slovakia are now included in the list of low-incidence TB countries. Temporary migrants from these countries who stay for less than 12 months in New Zealand will not be subject to TB screening.
Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates have been removed from the list of low-incidence TB countries. Temporary migrants from these countries will now be subject to the requirements for TB screening if they stay for more than six months in New Zealand.
Applicants who do not meet immigration health requirements may be considered for a medical waiver if they have a close family connection, or if they have potential to make a strong contribution to New Zealand, provided they meet all other requirements for approval under the relevant instructions and do not have a disqualifying condition (a non-waiver medical condition).
If an applicant is found not to have an acceptable standard of health, they may be considered for a medical waiver, provided they do not have a non-waiver medical condition.
Non-waiver medical conditions include any condition where the applicant:
The non-waiver condition ‘a physical incapacity that requires full-time care’ has been expanded to include those with a physical, intellectual, cognitive and/or sensory incapacity that requires full time care, including care in the community.
All migrants to New Zealand are expected to be of an acceptable standard of health. Screening requirements are in place and these vary depending on the length of a person’s intended stay. To assess whether a person meets health requirements, there is a threshold for high-cost health conditions and a list of common conditions which have been assessed as exceeding this threshold.
For more information on health conditions deemed to impose significant costs and/or demand on New Zealand’s health and education services, you can read the list of high-cost health conditions.
The threshold is calculated and set by the Ministry of Health. The Minister of Health and the Minister of Immigration jointly agree to any required adjustments.
The threshold is set to represent the top five per cent of health care service users. Setting the threshold means that only those migrants likely to impose the most significant cost to New Zealand’s health and education systems will fail to meet health requirements. Those with routine medical conditions will not be affected.
The role of the list high-cost conditions list is to:
Only a small number of residence applications are declined on health grounds. It is not expected that the change will impact the volume of immigration applications, or the proportion of applicants who fail to meet immigration health requirements.
The threshold for determining high cost health conditions will be reviewed in 2014, and again every two years.
The most substantive changes are the addition of conditions relating to mental health, strains of drug resistant TB, and the expansion of disability elements.
The changes come into effect from 26 November 2012.