What is insurance?
Insurance exists to protect against unforeseen loss or damage. There are many types of insurance cover, but the main are:
• motor vehicle
• funeral cover
Decide what kind of policy is relevant to your situation. Different insurance companies call their products different things. They may have varying levels of protection and cover different events, so it pays to shop around get quotes from more than one provider.
In New Zealand, the public health system covers all eligible people in New Zealand for acute conditions in a relatively timely manner. However, if you have a chronic or non-urgent condition, you may be put on a waiting list for the treatment you need. Health insurance can shorten the time you wait for treatment by funding or partially funding private hospital or specialist care.
Health insurance, like other forms of insurance, is typically paid in weekly or monthly instalments to protect you for future medical needs. Some insurance companies may combine health insurance into personal insurance, which can cover life, income, trauma, and disability. You can also consider funeral insurance. The main benefit of health insurance is time. If you need treatment that could be put off or is not urgent, the public health system will not prioritise it and you will be put on a waiting list. Health insurance will cover the cost of private medical treatment without a waiting list.
Some insurance providers will increase premiums for health insurance as you age because you are deemed to be more at risk of needing to access treatment. It is important to shop around when choosing an insurance provider to make sure you get the best deal for you. You will also need to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, which may not be covered by your insurance.
Do you need health insurance?
If you are considering getting health insurance, you should ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Can you afford to put aside savings just for medical bills?
- Can you afford to pay for a doctors' visit?
- If you do not make it onto a public hospital waiting list, can you afford to pay for surgery?
- If a condition could stop you from working, how much income could you lose?
- What are your chances of needing major surgery?
Depending on your financial situation, you can find health insurance that only covers what you need. If you can afford day-to-day healthcare costs such as visiting a doctor or paying for prescriptions, you may only need coverage for hospital and specialists.
What can health insurance cover?
Coverage can vary depending on your insurance provider and policy. Some providers may offer coverage for:
- ‘Elective’ procedures, or procedures that are not urgent
- Cancer care
- Diagnostic imaging and testing
- Day-to-day healthcare
- Prescription glasses
- Home nursing
- Overseas coverage
- Non-subsidised medications
It is important to talk to your insurance provider to understand what your health insurance will cover and what your needs are.
Not all insurance providers offer the same coverage, plans, or rates. It is important to shop around, compare quotes from different providers, and find discounts that can make insurance more affordable for you. Here are some tips for finding the best insurance for you:
- Take advantage of group rates. Your workplace may offer discounts with a specific provider, or you may get a discounted rate if your whole family gets insured by the same provider
- Live a healthy lifestyle, as being healthier may get you discounts
- Get insurance at a younger age when the premiums are cheaper
- Reduce the amount of coverage you buy by choosing a higher excess or lower coverage based on what you need
- If you can afford it, pay for day-to-day medical costs by yourself and only choose hospital and specialist policies to be insured
Websites of interest