We are fortunate in New Zealand to have a public health system that is free and accessible to most people. If you experience major trauma, or acute life threatening events, then there is usually treatment and medical care on hand. We might take this for granted a lot of the time, particularly when we are fit and healthy and have not much need for this type of service.
However as we also know, the health system is hugely underfunded, our population is constantly growing, and there are simply not enough beds, specialist care, medical, surgical options, and optimal medication to treat all of us when we need it quickly.
So what does that mean for you?
That you or your family member could wait up to 10 months on average for surgery that is classed as elective surgery (non-emergency)*, that you could have to wait for critical scans and chemotherapy or radiotherapy, that the expensive medication you may need may not be funded through Pharmac – so you may need to pay for it yourself.
So this leaves us with a choice - either to rely on the public health system or take out private medical insurance. You might think – I shouldn’t need to pay for health care, the government should provide this - and you’ve got a valid point. However the reality is, our hospitals and GPs are stretched and doing the best job they can to keep up with the growing older population and demands on their service. If you choose to consider health insurance, or you already have it in place - there are important factors to consider.
Not all insurance is created equal!
One of the key factors to be aware of when taking out health insurance is to be careful about what you are specifically covered for, what is ‘not’ included, and for any exclusions in the fine print. This is critical to have a clear understanding of this at the beginning, and to avoid major issues at claim time. We have heard of too many examples when people have been diagnosed with a serious condition, or needed surgery, suffered a major heart attack etc and have been denied at claim time when they had expected to be covered. This causes huge stress, anxiety, and significant financial pressure at a time when you need to recover and focus on getting well.
Save Money or Lose Cover?
Also if you already have health insurance - are you paying too much? or have things changed? It can be tempting to look for ways to reduce your premiums and save money. If this still provides you with what you need, and you’re still covered – that could be an option. But be mindful of what you’re giving away, or missing out on – especially if non-pharmac funded drugs are important to you, then not all policies are created equal. Sometimes it can be a false economy and an unhappy ending for the sake of a few dollars. A good tip is to talk to a broker with in-depth industry knowledge to help guide you to the right cover for you. Talk to the experts who know what you need, because you never know when you will need it most!
Contact us for a coffee and a chat - we’re happy to answer any questions and help. Call Ruth from SGA on: 0800 747 336 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Source: “Assessing the demand for Elective Surgery amongst New Zealanders” TNS New Zealand January 2016. Research was funded jointly by Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) and New Zealand Private Surgical Hospitals’ Association (NZPSHA).