Support

Financial support

Personal costs often increase when breast cancer patients start treatment, because of things like hospital car parking, petrol, away-from-home accommodation and childcare.

Breast cancer patients often have to step back from paid work as they may feel unwell, tired or have to travel for treatment. This can all add to a family’s stress, especially if the household budget is already tight.

There is some financial support available for cancer patients in hardship:

  • Mortgage holiday
    If you are currently paying off a mortgage you may want to consider taking a mortgage holiday. Some banks offer 3 months holiday from paying off your mortgage, and an option to pay interest only for several months. For further information contact your bank to see if this applies.

  • Kiwi Saver – significant financial hardship / serious illness
    If you can provide evidence that you’re suffering significant financial hardship and/or serious illness, you may be able to withdraw some of your Kiwi Saver savings. For further information contact your Kiwi saver provider. Visit the Kiwi Saver website for more information.

  • Work and Income Services:
    Your first step is to use the WINZ online tool – it can help you check what assistance you might qualify for.You can also see a full list of support WINZ provides.

  • Beneficiary advocacy
    If you have difficulty explaining your needs to WINZ staff or feel like you need more support, an advocate or representative can help you. An advocate will provide you with information, ensure that you know your rights, and will support you in your dealings with Work and Income. This can include being your support person at a Benefit Review Committee hearing, or just being available to ensure you know what to expect at a hearing or appeal. Find out more about beneficiary advocacy.

Other sources of financial assistance

Community Services Card

The Community Services Card gives you and your family discounts on doctors’ visits and prescription costs. You may be able to get a card if you are on a low to middle-income, even if you work.

A Community Services Card can help you and your family with the costs of healthcare. You’ll pay less for some health services, simply by showing your card.

The Community Services Card reduces the cost of:

  • prescriptions if you don’t belong to a PHO (Primary Health Organisation)
  • after hours doctor visits
  • visits to a doctor who isn’t your regular doctor
  • glasses for children under 16 years
  • emergency dental care* provided by hospitals and approved dental contractors (ask the dental provider if they are an approved contractor)
  • travel and accommodation when you've been referred for treatment at a public hospital outside your area (at least 80 km away for adults and 25 km for children)
  • home help

Subsidy not available if costs can be covered by other assistance from Work and Income.

You must be on a low to middle-income to get a Community Services Card. The income limits for receiving a Community Services Card depend on your individual situation.

You may be able to get a card if you’re… And your yearly income (before tax) is…
Single – living with others $26,042
Single – living alone $27,637
Married, civil union or de facto couple – no children $41,327
Family of 2 $48,797
Family of 3 $59,093
Family of 4 $67,282
Family of 5 $75,302
Family of 6 $84,265


For families of more than six, the limit goes up another $7,898 for each extra person.

To apply for a community services card phone: 0800 999 999 or ask at any Work and Income service centre for an application form.

Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card

You can get a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card from your pharmacist if you and your family have collected 20 subsidised prescription items in a year. All further prescriptions of fully subsidised pharmaceuticals are free for the rest of that year. The year starts on 1 February.

A small co-payment will still be charged for a prescription from a private clinician, such as a specialist or optometrist, although if you have a High Use Health Card (see below) in addition to a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card there will be no co-payment.

To get a Pharmaceutical Subsidy Card, you must keep a record of the prescriptions you get. The pharmacist may keep a record for you. Ask your pharmacist about this.

High Use Health Card

If you don’t qualify for a Community Services Card, you may be able to get the High Use Health Card. This card can help if you visit the doctor often for an ongoing medical condition (12 times or more in the last 12 months). It gives you the same subsidies on doctors’ visits and prescriptions as a Community Services Card, but it is not a family card.

Please talk to your doctor if you think you qualify for the High Use Health Card.

Supported Living Payment

You may be able to get this benefit if you’re:

Permanently and severely restricted in your ability to work because of your health condition, injury or disability. This means you:

  • have a condition affecting your capacity to work for more than two years, OR
  • have a life expectancy of less than two years AND
  • can’t regularly work 15 hours or more a week in open employment

*Caring full time for someone at home who would otherwise need hospital-level or residential care (or the equivalent) who is not your husband, wife or partner.

To get Supported Living Payment you must be a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident who has lived here for at least two years at one time since becoming a citizen or permanent resident, and who normally lives here.

If you aren’t, please talk to WINZ as you may qualify for the Emergency Benefit, or they may have an agreement with the country where you’ve been living.

As part of your application for the Supported Living Payment, we’ll need you to give WINZ information that confirms your condition and the impact it has on your ability to work.

Supported Living Payment is paid weekly, and if you also qualify for extra financial help it’s paid at the same time.

How much money you get depends on your situation. For example, you may get less if you go into hospital long term.

Usually you receive your first payment two or three weeks after you’ve applied. It may be longer if you’ve received sick or holiday pay from an employer.

Other help

You may be able to get other financial assistance. The Supported Living Payment application form will collect information to help Work and Income decide what other help you may be eligible for.

The health and disability support system may also provide assistance, including time off for caregivers and home support services. Contact your local Needs Assessment and Service Coordination service, Care Coordination Centre, Disability Information Advisory Service, or doctor or hospital.

You can find more information by calling 0800 855 066 or by visiting the Ministry of Health website.

Care Plus

If you need a lot of support from the health system you may be eligible for Care Plus. Care Plus is a way of ensuring you get the best possible care for your needs at a low cost.

You must be enrolled with a primary health organisation (PHO) to access Care Plus. Most General Practices belong to a PHO. Ask your doctor or nurse for an assessment – they can tell you if you’re eligible. If you’re not, they may be able to review your existing care to find other ways to help you.

In your initial assessment your health needs will be explored in depth. Your doctor or nurse will develop a care plan with realistic, achievable goals related to your health and quality of life which will include regular follow-ups.

This care plan will help ensure that:

  • Your health conditions are effectively managed
  • You have a better understanding of your conditions
  • You’re supported to make lifestyle changes.
  • You’ll get services at a low or reduced cost.

Care Plus does not replace the High Use Health Card (HUHC). The HUHC means you can get discounted care for after-hours GP visits or if you visit a practice you are not enrolled with.

Care Plus is different – it provides extra funding for the GP you’re enrolled with so that you can receive more intensive care. It isn’t just about access to lower-cost care – it’s a way of improving your health outcomes all-round. Find out more about Care Plus

Travel assistance

If you or a family member need to travel long distances, or travel frequently, to see a specialist, then you may be eligible for help with expenses under the National Travel Assistance Scheme. These expenses may include travel, accommodation and support person costs.

You may be eligible for travel assistance if:

  • *You’ve been referred to the specialist you’re going to see by another specialist (not a GP) AND
  • Both specialists are publicly funded – that is, they are part of a government-funded health and disability service (for example, a renal dialysis centre or a specialist disability service) AND
  • You can answer ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions in the checklist below:
  1. Do you travel more than:
    • 80 km one way per visit (for a child)
    • 350 km one way per visit (for an adult)?
  2. Do you visit a specialist 22 or more times in two months?
  3. Do you visit a specialist six or more times in six months, and travel more than:
    • 25 km one way per visit (for a child)?
    • 50 km one way per visit (for an adult)?
  4. Are you a Community Services Card holder and travel more than:
    • 25 km one way per visit (for a child)?
    • 80 km one way per visit (for an adult)?

Shocking Pink – Supporting Young Women through Breast Cancer

Shocking Pink has allocated a special emergency fund to help young women aged 20 – 45 years diagnosed with breast cancer. They can help with things like travel costs, groceries, utility bills or those pricey specialised bras.

Conditions do apply – you must be undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or within 12 months of your last active treatment.

Visit Shocking Pink for more information.

Sweet Louise – Supporting those with Advanced Breast Cancer

If you have been diagnosed with Advanced Breast Cancer you can apply for extra support. Sweet Louise provides an annual allocation of $500 worth of vouchers for services such as house cleaning, lawn mowing, massage, meal deliveries and much more.

Visit Sweet Louise for more information.