Please note: This information is subject to change and is correct as at 14 December 2015. Please contact Work and Income or the Ministry of Health for the latest information.
In New Zealand we are very fortunate that the public health sector funds the treatment and repair of cleft lip/palate. You should not have to pay for any outpatient fees, time spent in hospital, orthodontic equipment, or feeding equipment. However, having a child with a cleft lip and/or palate will still mean you do have some extra expenses.
To receive public health funding you must be a permanent resident of New Zealand or have New Zealand nationality. There may be some exceptions to this which you will need to discuss with your district health board. For general information, please consult the eligibility criteria as stipulated by the Ministry of Health.
We have compiled this information as a rough guide to the benefits you may be entitled to. It is as accurate as we can make but you must speak to either a Social Worker or Needs Assessor for current details of entitlements in your local area. You can also contact Work and Income (WINZ).
There are various benefits, both financial and practical, which you may be entitled to as the parent of a child born with cleft lip and/or palate.
Child Disability Allowance
A Child Disability Allowance is available to people looking after a child with a serious physical or mental disability at home. This allowance is not means tested.
The Disability Allowance is a supplementary allowance for people with a disability on a low income or receiving a benefit.
National Travel Assistance
If you need to travel to reach your closest cleft unit, you may be eligible for Travel Assistance. This helps you with the costs of getting to hospital and can help with accommodation costs for carers but there are criteria you must meet. For more information click here.
High Frequency Health User Card
This can be obtained through your GP and can sometimes be utilised to get extra subsidies on prescriptions.
Carer Support / Respite Care
This is an allowance paid to an alternative caregiver, at the family’s request. A Needs Assessment is required to access Carer Support by your Social Worker or Needs Assessor.
It’s just the system
Don’t allow the names of these benefits to shock you – the words “handicapped” or “disabled” are simply used to describe a wide range of conditions. In the vast majority of cases, a cleft lip and/or palate is a purely “cosmetic” condition and your baby will be otherwise healthy and develop normally.
Before applying for these benefits you need your child’s birth certificate and payment generally does not commence until the Needs Assessor receives the completed forms and cannot be backdated. Members of your cleft team can assist you complete the required forms.