01 Dec

Why have private health insurance when you can get health care for free?

There was a story on Stuff recently regarding a 67-year-old who was shocked to discover she had bowel cancer. After numerous tests and medical appointments, she was told she needed surgery to take out the tumour and determine how advanced the cancer was. While preparing herself mentally, she organised time off work and childcare for her grandchildren. Two days before the surgery, she received a second shock when her operation was cancelled due to a lack of beds. It turns out she was just one of over fifty patients, who had their planned surgery cancelled at short notice that week.

Stuff Article – Cancer patients’ surgeries cancelled due to bed shortage at Christchurch Hospital.

Reading this story made me think of my Mum’s recent experience with the health system. She had a single hip replacement 5 years ago and at that time was told by her specialist that her other hip would need replacing at some stage. A few weeks ago, Mum decided it was time. She contacted her specialist, had a consult with him the following week and is now booked in for surgery next week.

All of this done within a month and solely because she has private health insurance and able to arrange this when she wanted to, on her own terms and not having to wait in the long queue for surgery that exists in the public system.

3 key reasons you need private health insurance

New Zealand that has a public health system which has to ration services based on resources. The benefits of having private health insurance is:

1. Insurance gives power back to you the patient, because you are able to schedule treatment according to your life circumstances. You are not relying on the public health system and things like nurses strikes or lack of beds intervening in your treatment.
2. You are guaranteed to receive the best treatment options New Zealand has to offer. This includes things like operations, medications and advice from experts.
3. If you have to wait six months or more to receive treatment in New Zealand, you have the option of going overseas to receive treatment (some providers offer this so check with your adviser).

Our health system is great for emergency procedures, but to get non-acute procedures or elective procedures you have to go on a lengthy waiting list. If your surgery is not deemed urgent, you can be bumped for something that is deemed more acute. With private insurance, you have timely access to the best treatments, procedures and medications.

There is a lot of fine print with health insurance and different providers offer different options. You shouldnt just pick a generic package, instead you need to tailor your insurance based on your current circumstances. Importantly, health insurance can be structured so it is not expensive depending on your requirements.

Come to see me if you need advice on what can be done to make insurance affordable while protecting your health. Dont be caught up a creek without a paddle, or a personalised lifestyle protection plan from Rix Insurance, this winter.

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