When you walk into any Physiotherapy practice, or GP practice in New Zealand you'll usually see 2 price categories. ACC, and Non-ACC or Private. I get alot of questions from clients about ACC so here im going answer some of them.
|ACC logo from their website (2022)|
What is ACC?
ACC is the Accident Compensation Corporation. It is a publicly funded insurance scheme that covers everyone in New Zealand. It was set up in 1974 and covers any and all accidents or injuries that happen within New Zealand, or to New Zealand Citizens while they are overseas. It removes liability for accidents and is the reason why you cant sue a business if you slip on a wet floor in New Zealand. ACC is responsible for supporting you to return to your pre-injruy level of function and fitness, or as close to as is reasonably possible.
So what qualifies as an accident or injury?
From the ACC Website:
"An Accident is a specific incident, event, or series of events, which causes an injury to a person"
Generally ACC qualifies an injury as having an external force and occurring at a specific date or time. The external force can be gravity in the case of a fall, someone else in the case of being knocked by a player, or even yourself or an inanimate object if you managed to hammer your finger. What doesn't qualify is spontaneous pain that started when you woke up or got out of bed, or pain that has come on gradually over a period of days from over using a joint.
However if you have woken up with pain, it is worth considering what you did the day before. Many injuries will start with a twinge or pull at the time, which goes away, only to return after you've rested. In that case the injury would be what you were doing at the time of the twinge or pulling feeling happened.
You can also claim a gradual process injury if it is something related to your work environment, such as carpal tunnel from working with your hands. However a claim like this will need proof and is much more likely to be accepted if submitted by your GP.
Who is entitled to support from ACC?
ACC covers any accident that happens within New Zealand borders, even covering non residents and tourists. However ACC will only cover treatment within NZ borders as well. So for tourists and travellers, it is important you still carry health insurance to cover any support you may need once you return home and to help you get home.
ACC also covers injuries to New Zealand Citizens that happen outside of New Zealand. However again cover is only available within New Zealand, so you will need health insurance when you travel to cover any costs incurred while you are overseas, or to help you get home.
Will my boss find out about my injury if I make a claim?
Only if your injury happened at work. In that case, they will be informed about their obligations by ACC. They will never have access to your notes or personal information. But they do need to know about anything that affects your ability to work. In some cases, when your injury is more complicated and you have to take a lot of time off work, ACC may appoint a team of health professionals to work with your employer and you to make your return to work as smooth as possible. These are called Return to Work Programmes.
What are the benefits of making an ACC claim?
The biggest benefit is the instant reduction of appointment costs. When you appointment is covered by ACC, They pay a portion of your appointment fee. The amount left for you to pay (or surcharge) differs from practice to practice, but in April 2022, at On Pointe Physiotherapy, a Private appointment is $50, but an ACC funded appointment is $10. ACC will also cover the costs of any x-rays or scans you may require, and the cost of seeing a private surgeon or specialist if you require this for your injury. However you must be referred for these by your Physiotherapist or Doctor. This enables you to have access to the private healthcare system which moves significantly faster than the Public Health System.
Secondly, an ACC claim entitles you to weekly compensation if you require time off due to your injury. This is usually 80% of your normal income, however your employer may top up the last 20% if you were injured at work. You will need proof of your inability to work which comes in the form of a Medical Certificate from your Doctor, Surgeon or GP.
Additionally, ACC will cover some of your travel costs if you need to travel more than 20km to seek treatment, or you travel more than 80km in a calendar month. You can find all the up to date information here.
Lastly, ACC keeps records of all your injuries, which is very useful if you have ongoing long term issues from an injruy. For example, if your injury is still affecting you years later, you may be entitled to ongoing support from ACC. This can come in the form of tools for your work or home, or funding for further appointments. The service is very individualized and will depend on your specific needs.
Do I have to stick with the physio I made the claim with?
No, your ACC claim is yours and you can take it with you wherever you go. This means you have the choice to see whichever Physiotherapist or Specialist you wish. You can even take your ACC claim number with you on holiday and see someone local to where you are holidaying.
Who pays for ACC?
We all do! ACC is funded through a combination of taxpayer money and levy's. If you own a business you will pay an ACC Levy yearly. There are also ACC Levy's on vehicle registrations and likely many more places that we are often not even aware we are paying.
Do I have to make an ACC Claim?
No you do not. However you will miss out on all the benefits above.
In summary, ACC is a fantastic service unique to New Zealand. If you meet the criteria, I highly recommend you make use of it. To make an appointment with On Pointe Physiotherapy, click here.
NB; All this information is correct to the best of my knowledge as of April 2022. Please see the ACC website for more up to date information.