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Health Insurance - Can you afford not to have it?

At one time, health insurance was only for those who preferred to use the private health system. But times have changed.

With the cost of medical treatments and the availability of new procedures and drugs increasing, more and more New Zealanders are going private.

While urgent treatment is always available through the public system, people can find themselves in a slow-moving queue for those ailments that aren't immediately life threatening.

The solution

Health insurance eliminates waiting on public waiting lists, getting you treated and on the way to living normally again as soon as possible. That is its primary benefit for most people, and why it is worth considering.

There are other benefits from private health insurance including allowing overseas treatment, accessing different treatments, treatments not available in the public system and assisting with family support in time of crisis or rehabilitation.

To help you decide whether you should consider health insurance, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is it likely that I would require medical treatment sometime in my life?
  2. Can I afford to cover it myself if I don't want to wait six months or more?

Surgery is expensive, listed below are some examples of common procedures (with indicative costs as at January 2010):

Cardiac bypass (heart surgery) .... $37,000-$45,000
Total Hysterectomy (surgery) .... $10,000-$13,000
Radiation Therapy (1 course of treatment) ... $15,000-$27,000
Knee Replacement ... $19,000-$23,000
Knee Arthroscopy ... $4,000-$5,000

It is an unfortunate fact that most of us do not get through life unscathed. Health insurance provides peace of mind that, if the unforeseen does happen and the public health system cannot help you, you can afford to get expert medical treatment when you really need it.


ACC Levy Consultation 2010/11 (
Reserve Bank Of New Zealand (
Health Funds Association of New Zealand (
NZ Institute for the Study Of Competition and Regulation Inc. (,18412/18412_Health_nonprofit_governancce_in_NZ_May_24.pdf)
NZ Ministry of Health – Elective Services (

Research from the Southern Cross Medical Care Society 2009

Health Insurance

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