A family sitting on the wharf fishing
A family sitting on the wharf fishing

Why get health insurance?

Why health insurance could be worth it for many New Zealanders

New Zealand has a great healthcare system offering New Zealand residents high-quality healthcare and medical treatments for free or for a low fee. It leaves many asking: is health insurance worth it?

Private medical insurance complements the New Zealand public health system. While the public system will treat you right away for life-threatening conditions or injuries, you’ll end up on a waiting list for anything that’s not as urgent.

The advantage of private healthcare and health insurance is that you’re able to access treatment faster by skipping public hospital waiting lists. Being treated sooner can mean a quicker return to living life to your fullest. It can mean less time off work and less financial stress. You’ll also have more choice over when you receive treatment for qualifying medical conditions.

A mother walking with her two children

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.

Your health is worth protecting

How does health insurance work?

There are a number of health insurance providers in New Zealand. Southern Cross is one. Health insurance providers offer a range of different healthcare plans – sometimes with optional add-ons, so you can tailor your plan to your own needs and budget. For example, Southern Cross offers cover for health care services like cancer treatments and surgery as well as more comprehensive plans that cover things like dental care and GP visits.

If you have an illness or injury that’s covered by your health insurance plan, part or all of the costs for treatment can be met by your insurer. How your healthcare provider gets compensated and what treatments you are covered for depends on the details of your policy, which is why it’s important to read through your policy document before you buy.

What’s the best health insurance option?

It’s worth looking around for the option that suits you best. At Southern Cross, we’re proud to be New Zealand’s most trusted health insurance provider1, chosen by over 940,0002 people. Being a not-for-profit society means that we put you and your family first, offering a range of plans to suit different needs and lifestyles.

Health insurance offers protection for your future

See how Southern Cross helps members with medical cover, discounts and other benefits so you can live life to the fullest:

More member stories

Take the next step

Interested in Southern Cross health insurance? Here are three ways to take the next step.

1 Reader's Digest Most Trusted Health Insurance Brand, 2017-2023.

2 As at 30 June 2023.