WorldAustralia / Oceania


This country is offering free prescription drugs and free child care

New Zealand is making new investments in prescription drugs and child care, and kids under 13 will be able to use public transportation for free.
Skyline in Auckland, New Zealand
Posted at 11:44 AM, May 19, 2023

Families in New Zealand will be getting some relief. 

The country's Labour government unveiled its budget this week, which eliminates copays for most medications and expands its state-funded child care program. 

"This Budget helps makes things a little easier for parents, older New Zealanders, students and children by reducing or removing some of the costs they currently face," said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. 

Prior to the budget announcement, New Zealanders were charged a $5 copay for most prescriptions. 

Chris Hipkins, center left, is sworn in as New Zealand's next prime minister by Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, right

Hipkins sworn in as New Zealand PM, pledges focus on economy

Chris Hipkins, 44, has promised a back-to-basics approach focusing on the economy and what he described as the "pandemic of inflation."


The state-funded child care program used to be for children ages 3-5. Under the new budget, the program has been expanded to include 2-year-olds. They are now eligible for up to 20 hours of free early childhood education. 

In addition to new investments in prescription drugs and child care, the government will also cover the cost of public transportation for children under 13.

New Zealand has a population of just over 5 million and operates on a budget of $4.8 billion a year. 

For perspective, the U.S. has as population of 333 million and has already spent more than $3.1 trillion in the 2023 fiscal year, which began in October.