Health insurance NZ > Health insurance basics

Health Insurance basics

What Is Health Insurance?

In emergency situations (like a car crash for example) the New Zealand public health system usually does a great job. However for "non-urgent" situations, which can even include major health issues, treatment in the public system can involve long and difficult waiting lists.

Health insurance is a way to avoid waiting lists, and access top medical care when and where you need it.

How does it work?

With health insurance you can access treatment in a private hospital, and your insurer will pay (they can either reimburse you or pay the health provider directly). This means that you won't need to join a public hospital waiting list, and it also usually means that you have a wider range of treatment options, hospitals, and medical specialists available to you.

What is covered?

A good health plan will cover 100% of your major medical expenses, minus any "excess" (the part of the hospital bill that you pay). This includes things like surgery, hospital charges, etc.

It's also common for plans to cover specialist and test costs both before and after your treatment in hospital. In addition, plans will often pay for a range of "major diagnostic" costs (like MRI scans, CT scans, angiograms, etc), even if you don't need treatment in hospital.

What extra cover is available?

Usually you can choose an extra "Specialists and Tests" add-on. This means that specialist and test costs are covered, even if you don't need to go to hospital (for example a referral by your GP to have a test done or have a consultation with a specialist). This can be a good add-on to have because multiple specialist visits or tests can be quite expensive.

Some plans also offer add-on cover for day-to-day medical costs, like GP visits and Dental charges. Usually our recommendation is to avoid this type of add-on, as they tend to be poor value for money. Our advice is to focus on what's really important - getting a plan that provides great cover for large costs (like hospital treatment) and then get the "Specialists and Tests" add-on if you'd like extra cover.

Who can apply?

Usually any New Zealand citizen, permanent resident, or people on a 2 year Work Visa can apply.

Note: if you are not in any of these categories, but are interested in health insurance please contact LifeDirect. We can confirm what options might be available to you.