With another general election just around the corner, once again the hot-topic subject of New Zealand’s public health system is in the spotlight. As usual, most of the major parties’ policies are focused on making limited funds stretch as far as possible. But with the rate of population growth in New Zealand currently outstripping forecasts, public hospitals, along with other areas of vital infrastructure, are struggling to accommodate the influx of extra patients.
Having a Plan B – access to private healthcare through a good health insurance policy – is more important than ever. Despite this, only about one-third of all New Zealanders have health insurance. Why? It’s probably partially due to a number of commonly-believed myths.
I’m young, so I don’t need it
When you’re young is the best time to take out health insurance so that you are covered before you develop any pre-existing conditions. Even if you’re young and fit, you may still need expensive medical treatment at some stage.
The public healthcare system will look after me
New Zealand’s healthcare system is great for critical emergency treatment, but if you suffer a non-life-threatening condition, you can end up on a very long waiting list. Even with some serious conditions, the waiting times for tests and operations can be longer than is ideal. You also get little option of when and where you are treated, and by whom.
I can’t get it because I have an existing condition
Depending on the terms of the policy you take out, you may be able to get cover for some existing conditions after a stand-down period, or if you pay a slightly higher premium. Even if your condition can’t be covered, you may still be able to get insurance for other unrelated conditions.
It’s too expensive
No two health insurance policies are created equal, and there are options out there to help you minimise your costs. Many policies offer a higher excess option which means you have to pay more up front when you need treatment, but you’re still covered for the big stuff.
It won’t pay out when I need it
Sometimes claims are declined because they are for something that isn’t covered by the policy, or because the customer didn’t disclose important information when they took out their policy. But it’s important to remember that the vast majority of claims are accepted. In 2016, $1.136 billion was paid out in health insurance claims.
All health insurance policies are the same
No, they’re not! There’s a wide range of choices available, from policies that only cover major surgery right through to policies that cover dental, physiotherapy and optical. There are even policies that cover some types of overseas treatment and non-Pharmac funded medicines.
If you’d like to take out health insurance for the first time or review your current cover to make sure it still meets all your needs, give us a call at Advice Financial to chat about your ideal Plan B with one of our experienced advisers.