In New Zealand we’re lucky. We have a free health system (well, mostly free). By world standards, our healthcare provision is excellent. In general, we know if something goes wrong, we’ll be in safe hands.
But unfortunately, we also have a stretched healthcare system.
Right now there are 270,000 people on waiting lists around the country.
What happens when something goes wrong for you?
While the public system will treat you immediately for anything life threatening, you’ll usually end up on a waiting list if it’s not as urgent. Say you need treatment such as heart surgery, cancerous tumour removal, or knee replacement. Because your surgery isn’t immediately life threatening you’ll go on a waiting list.
Depending on your issue, you may have to wait a few days, a few weeks or months. How long could you wait? Remember, while you’re waiting, and depending on your condition, you may not be able to work.
If you want to avoid hospital waiting lists and fast track your recovery then you need to invest in health insurance.
Why you need health insurance
If you have health insurance it will pay for procedures or surgery through the private system. Whether you need specialist consultations, scans, or elective surgery, medical insurance will secure the treatment you need and cut down on your waiting time.
Take for example cancer treatments. Cancer treatments are steadily moving from the State to the private sector. Both Auckland and Christchurch now have private cancer treatment facilities. These offer the latest treatments. Treatments that are not cheap. So if you want access to the best treatments you need to be in a position to pay for them.
Here are the average costs for some common surgeries:
- $20,000 – $28,000 for prostate cancer
- $4,000 – $14,000 for breast cancer
- $40,000 – $60,000 for heart valve replacement
Do you have that sort of money immediately available to you? Because when you’re in pain and unwell the last thing you need is financial stress.
Paying a monthly health insurance premium is a cost-effective way to ensure you get the very best healthcare if and when the time comes and you need it. Because good health care isn’t cheap.
Choose and structure your health insurance wisely
There’s a huge variation in the level of cover offered by different insurers. And don’t just rely on the information provided by insurance companies online. There are a range of policies a broker has access to which could offer you much better bang for your buck.
A broker can help you structure your insurance with the right mix of cover and excess. A good broker will interpret the policy fine print for you to make sure you have a policy that lines up with your needs.
You may also choose to focus on the big risks. If you skip comprehensive coverage for day-to-day medical costs and choose ‘hospital-only’ or ‘hospital and specialist’ policies – you’ll ensure you’re protected from big hits.
Now is the best time to get health insurance
The younger you are, the cheaper your premiums will be. And you’re less likely to have any ‘pre-existing conditions’ which may affect your insurance. But don’t think because you have a pre-existing condition you can’t get insurance. This is where a broker can find you the best policy for your circumstance. Many policies have minimal stand-down periods for pre-existing conditions – so the sooner you get insurance the sooner you’ll be covered.
Whether you’re young – or just young at heart – locking in health cover now makes sense.
Because come the day when your health fails you’ll want options. You’ll want the best treatment. You’ll want to avoid the waiting list. You’ll want a speedy recovery.
And speed costs if you don’t have insurance.