Thoughts on Health Insurance from Financial Adviser

• New Zealand’s public health system works very well at subsidising primary care (GPs and prescriptions) and at acute, life-threatening conditions. It is in the area of “elective” surgery or treatment that many people discover they have to wait many months for treatment or, even worse, they don’t meet the pain criteria to even go on the waiting list.

• Waiting for treatment can mean that your condition worsens, you are in pain all the time, you may be unable to work and the whole family suffers the emotional and financial stress until the waiting is over and you can be restored to health.

• For most of us, our health is much more valuable than our car but which one takes priority in the insurance budget?

Common health insurance claims for people in their 30s
• For women: gynaecological and other abdominal procedures. Breast cancer, bowel cancer and skin cancer are occurring at all ages, but more frequently with age are joint replacements and spinal surgery.

• For men: skin and colon cancer with cardio-vascular conditions becoming common from age 50 along with prostate cancer, large joint replacements and spinal surgery.

Product and premium structures
The above claims relate to surgical procedures that are covered by the “base” plans for “Private Hospital Surgical & Medical cover”. The cost of these operations or treatments is high. A colonoscopy, for example, costs about $2,000, a knee replacement around $25,000 and a heart bypass about $45,000. Cancer treatment costs are the most expensive, depending on the types of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy chosen.

The table below illustrates monthly premiums* for a single adult at different ages and different excess levels for a basic Private Hospital Surgical and Medical cover policy.

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What’s best for your family?
There are a myriad of additional types of cover (for diagnostic tests, GPs etc) available and it can be confusing to know exactly what each policy does and does not include.

Some insurers offer special terms, such as cover for non-Pharmac-subsidised cancer drugs or a guarantee never to downgrade your policy without your consent.

Accessing the services of an Insurance Broker will ensure that any medical insurance you purchase is tailored to your specific needs.

* Premiums are sourced from a quotation system from an independent research house. The premiums are current at the date of publication and are not guaranteed to be the cheapest. They are an indication only and advice from an Insurance Broker should be sought before purchasing private medical insurance.


Advice on health insurance has been provided by Iain Smart of Lewis Limited,

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