Changes to eligibility for free COVID-19 healthcare

February 15th, 2023

If you have COVID-19

For COVID-19 health advice call the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

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.

High-risk medical conditions

Who can get antivirals

If you have COVID-19

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.

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

If you have COVID-19

Testing and vaccination remain free

More Information

Medicines to treat COVID-19

COVID-19 antiviral medicines can help people who are at risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19. These medicines are free.

How to get antivirals

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a Household Contact

Many pharmacists will be able to supply COVID-19 antivirals without a prescription if you test positive or are a Household Contact. The pharmacist will check your eligibility.

Who can get antivirals

People with a high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are eligible for treatment with COVID-19 antiviral medicines. These medicines reduce the amount of virus in your body, so you do not get as sick and you are less likely to go to hospital.

You can get free antiviral medicines if you:

  • have COVID-19 and symptoms or you are a Household Contact and have symptoms, and
  • became sick within the last 5 days, and
  • are eligible for the medicine.