Health insurance - surgery waiting room

Health insurance

Health insurance helps protect you and your family from financial stress due to illness or injury

Health insurance is an important safety net, allowing you and your family to access the best medical care when you need it.

Whether you realise it or not, your health is everything to you, so helping protect it is crucial. While you may be in perfect health now, it’s very possible that you may become unwell at some stage of your life. You will need to be able to get back to full health as soon as possible, and this is where health insurance is key. The major benefits of health insurance include:

  • Peace of mind knowing you and your family’s health will be taken care of
  • Fast access to healthcare, avoiding the waiting lists for surgery and specialist visits
  • Less time off work looking after sick family members
  • Meeting the difference if ACC won't cover all or part of the treatment
  • A quicker return to health, so you can get back to enjoying life.

Reduced waiting time

Get the right care faster, so you can get well sooner.

In the public system, non-urgent often means a waiting list. With health insurance (often also called health cover or medical insurance), you can access medical specialists, get diagnostic tests and be booked in for surgery far quicker, so you can focus on recovering and getting back to your usual life. This may mean getting back to work as soon as possible, so you can keep supporting your family and paying your bills.

By avoiding the waiting times commonly associated with the New Zealand public health system, you can also avoid deteriorating health and reduced quality of life while waiting for treatment.

Choose when and where you are treated

If you needed treatment, wouldn’t it be better to be able to choose your preferred doctor and when and where treatment occurs? Health insurance gives you options you might not otherwise have access to without paying the very high costs of private healthcare.

Is ACC enough?

In the event of an accident, you'll usually be covered by ACC. However, even if you’re covered by ACC and need to see a specialist, have a diagnostic procedure (such as a MRI scan) or have non-acute surgery, the public system will put you on a waiting list. This is where health insurance can help.

It also pays to keep in mind that ACC won't cover you for a variety of matters, including illnesses, conditions relating to ageing, and emotional issues.

Include up to 100% of your medical expenses

Health insurance can meet up to 100% of your medical expenses, less any excess you elect to pay when the policy is established.

Pre-existing conditions

Usually, pre-existing medical conditions are not covered by any new health insurance policy you establish. This can be an obstacle, especially for older individuals. However, selected New Zealand insurers are more welcoming in this regard, such as covering some pre-existing medical conditions after an exclusion period. This is where Milestone Direct advisers can assist you with finding the right insurer to meet your needs.

Cost of healthcare

Non-Pharmac treatments

The Pharmaceutical Management Agency, better known as Pharmac, is a New Zealand public entity that decides which medicines and pharmaceutical products are subsidised for use in the public health system. Naturally, Pharmac’s taxpayer-funded budget only stretches so far, and there are many treatments that Pharmac simply cannot afford to fund.

Rapidly increasing pharmaceutical costs, especially for non-Pharmac-funded cancer treatments, leaves many New Zealanders with huge pharmaceutical bills each year. This can lead to tough decisions for some people, such as mortgaging their home to meet medical costs.

Suitable health insurance will either meet the cost of these treatments or provide a lump sum to assist paying for non-Pharmac cancer treatments. However, not all health insurers, including the country’s largest provider of health insurance, provide this as a standard feature on their policies. This means that many New Zealanders who already have medical insurance and have been diligently paying their premiums (regular payments for insurance) for many years may not have the cover they thought, and only find this out at the worst possible time. The good news is that this can be quickly rectified, for example, the country’s largest medical insurer has introduced an add-on policy to meet this need. If you think you may benefit from a no obligation and free discussion regarding this situation, please get in touch.

Can I purchase health insurance online?

Many insurance companies now provide the ability for you to purchase health insurance online. In most cases, this is not recommended owing to the following reasons:

  1. Limited understanding. When compared with other types of insurance, health insurance is particularly complex with different health insurance policies having a wide variety of different benefits and features. Establishing insurance online is unlikely to give most people a complete understanding of the policy being established, as most individuals do not understand the terms and different features explained at length by the insurance provider in pages of fine print of legal and health jargon. Perhaps most important among this fine print is the exclusions, or what will not be covered by the policy. For example, often this is the non-Pharmac treatments explained in the section above.
  2. Research. Closely linked with above, the complexities of health insurance mean it pays to conduct plenty of research before establishing any medical cover. To ensure you don’t get a substandard health insurance policy, there needs to be deliberate research, analysis, and comparison of comparable policies. This will enable you to find the most suitable and cost-effective policy.
  3. Inaccurate disclosure. Whether purchasing health insurance on or offline, the first step is completing the policy application form. When filling forms online, you do not have a guide to assist you, including overseeing the completeness and accuracy of your details. Therefore, if you are purchasing online you need to be extremely careful to ensure all the details entered are accurate and leave nothing out. An insurance company can reject a claim outright if it later comes to light that key information provided is incorrect or is missing something - such as regarding your medical history. There may even be fraud allegations if the policyholder has omitted, lied about, or hidden key facts. This is certainly not what you want to be dealing with when you or a family member are unwell. Moreover, since it is an online policy, you can’t even obtain an adviser’s support to fight the case.
  4. Too much cover. When many people find out just how economical health cover can be, the temptation is often to purchase far too much! In this case, the extra cover becomes a total waste of hard-earned money, especially as some insurers will sign customers up for cheap policies for the first year or two then make rapid increases to the premium (regular payments made to the insurer for the insurance) as they know people are less likely to change policies even when the premiums increase.
  5. Not enough cover. In direct contrast to above, many people take insufficient cover as they fail to properly analyse how much cover they truly need. Key factors when considering this area include your; budget, dependants, family history, medical history, assets and liabilities, expectations for healthcare, commitments, and income.
Health insurance review

How can an insurance adviser assist?

Our Authorised Financial Advisers - in this case commonly called insurance brokers - can assist by helping you avoid the four pitfalls listed above. Here are some other advantages offered by exploring health insurance with an adviser from Milestone Direct:

  • You have a guide through the process.
  • Understand the fine print associated with all insurance policies.
  • Most often, save yourself money. This is because our advisers have great insurance market knowledge, so know which policies should be avoided for being far costlier in the long run (such as those mentioned above which charge a cheap initial rate then rapidly increase the premiums, or don’t cover what you need them too). Using industry-leading comparative tools, an adviser can connect you with the best policy to most economically meet your needs. Advisers also know plenty of helpful tips which keep the cost of health insurance down, such as:
    • An increased excess, which reduces the premiums, and
    • Tailoring the insurance to meet your needs, so you’re not paying for components of cover you’ll never use.
  • While we all hope to never need health insurance, if a claim needs to be made you will have support and assistance throughout. This includes helping you file the claim, following up on your behalf, and ensuring your needs are met. This reduces the stress at a difficult time. Arguably, this is the biggest advantage of working with an adviser.

You can also gain confidence knowing that Milestone Direct aren’t an insurance provider and aren’t owned by one (unlike some financial advice firms!). This is one reason why you know your interests are being put first. Another is that our advisers are all paid a salary instead of commission. They also have no incentive to promote one product over another.

What if you already have health cover?

As is the case with other insurance policy types, the level of health cover a person needs can rapidly change depending on a wide variety of life events. Your developing personal situation can combine with the constantly improving nature of the insurance market to mean that yearly reviews of your levels of existing insurance are a necessity. It also pays to check that your health insurance covers you for what you want it too - such as non-Pharmac treatments. Please contact us if you would like to review your current policy or policies.

What next?

With your and your family’s health at stake, what have you got to lose by making a phone call to check your situation? For a free, no obligation chat with an Authorised Financial Adviser (often called an insurance broker) about your situation, call 0508 MILESTONE (0508 645 378) or leave your details below.