Public vs. private healthcare
When deciding on whether to get health insurance, it’s helpful to understand how the New Zealand health system works.
What’s the difference between public and private healthcare?
The public health system and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) will provide you with a good level of healthcare for emergency treatment, acute care and accidents.
The public healthcare system classifies non-emergency conditions as ‘elective’ treatments, this means you’ll have to qualify for treatment and (more than likely) go on a waiting list. Common ‘elective’ treatments are hip or knee replacements, heart surgery, hysterectomy, cataract removal, cancerous tumour removal, and diagnostic services such as endoscopy, laparoscopy, MRI scans, tonsillectomy, and grommets.
Private health insurance can provide faster access to private hospitals for many of these treatments as well as help with the cost.
Is it worth having private health insurance?
If you’re diagnosed with a non-acute medical condition, you could have a long wait for treatment in the public health system. In private healthcare, the wait is often shorter but operations may come with a hefty price tag. With private health insurance, you can get treatment sooner and get help with the costs so your quality of life is better, faster.
So, do I need medical insurance in New Zealand?
It’s a personal choice, however, having private health insurance will complement the public services you’re already entitled to.