New Zealand has a public healthcare system that will look after your acute needs and a public accident insurance scheme (ACC) that covers your accidental injury.
However, if you need to see a specialist, have non-acute surgery or a diagnostic procedure (such as an MRI), the public system will put you on a waiting list. This is where health insurance can help. If a condition is a non-emergency condition, in the public system you will usually need to go through an assessment process and qualify for ‘elective’ treatment.
Common elective treatments include, hip or knee replacement, heart surgery, hysterectomy, cataract removal, cancerous tumour removal, and diagnostic services such as endoscopy, laparoscopy, MRI scans, tonsillectomy, and grommets.
Private health insurance helps with the cost of many non-urgent procedures and provides prompt access to private hospitals for the treatment.
The benefit of health insurance often lies in cutting down the wait times involved. While the public system will treat you right away for anything life threatening or for serious injuries from an accident, you’ll usually end up on a waitlist if it’s not as urgent.
HOW MUCH WAIT TIME ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
One industry study found that it took on average 100 days longer for surgery if you were on the public list rather than on a private one. In the public system, the average time from the first GP referral to having surgery was 224 days; those going private would generally be seen by a surgeon a couple of weeks after the first visit.
The surgery is done, you’ve recovered and you’re back at work before the public list would have even see you.
That wait time, of course, also affects work and family. According to a study, people took an average of five weeks off work while they were waiting and required help from family members, who also had to take time off from work. It’s peace of mind for you to know you can get treated when you want to and you’re not going to be waiting around in pain.
THE BENEFITS OF HEALTH INSURANCE:
• Faster access to treatment by avoiding public hospital waiting lists
• Less financial stress by reducing your costs of private treatment and time off work
• More choice over when you receive treatment for qualifying medical conditions
Having health insurance gives you the peace of mind that you can get the treatment you need, when you need it. A family of four (two adults and two children) could cost between $25-$30 per week (Approximate price only).