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Why have health insurance?

1 February, 2017

Dan McKirdy

While health insurance is often seen as a luxury, it is very important to ensure that diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation can happen as soon as possible so you can get on with your life. As one health insurer’s advertisement says - "The most precious thing you'll ever possess is your health", and they are correct. It is not until you have battled a serious condition or helped a family member through one, that you see the road to recovery should be as short as possible.

Being able to confirm a diagnosis quickly can reduce stress at a very tumultuous time by allowing you to move on to obtaining treatment earlier on, so that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Figures released last year showed that the the average wait for privately funded treatment from GP appointment to treatment was 76 days. It was 177 days for publicly funded treatment. That is an additional 101 days to wait while you are unwell!

Imagine what you were doing on October 23 last year. Using the figures above, this is when you would have had privately funded treatment, and today is when you would be going through the public system.

Of the privately funded surgeries, more than half were completed within a month as well.

Given the costly nature of surgeries, it is not as easy as you might think to dip into your savings, or add to your mortgage. For example, heart bypass surgery can cost up to $45,000, a knee replacement will be more than $20,000 and cancer treatments can be up to $140,000 for one treatment cycle of chemotherapy.

This suddenly makes the cost of the insurance look more affordable.

When choosing health cover, there are a number of different products available, so it is important to ensure you are getting the best policy for you. The main points to consider are:

  • Insurer’s claim experience – How easily do they make the claims process?

  • Maximum level of cover – As treatment costs continue to increase, a high level of cover is important.

  • How much is covered? – Is it a percentage, or the full amount of the treatment?

  • Are specialist assessments and diagnostic tests covered?

  • Are non-PHARMAC medications funded?

  • Is cover for dental treatment or GP visits required? Although, sometimes it is not economical to cover these visits, as the levels of cover tend to be quite low.

For a real life story showing how health insurance works, and the real life affect on a family, have a look at this short video

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