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Thread: Private health insurance increasing

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    Default Private health insurance increasing

    Health insurers sign up 100 newcomers a day
    Friday February 09, 2007

    New Zealanders are signing up health insurance policies at the rate of nearly 100 people a day.

    In the December 2006 quarter, the number of lives covered by health insurance jumped 8400 to 1.37 million.

    The total increase for the 2006 year was 15,500, according to the Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ).

    "Older policyholders are keeping their cover, as they see what is happening with elective services. At the same time, younger age groups and families are increasingly looking to health insurance for peace of mind," said HFANZ executive director Claire Austin.

    She agreed with Health Minister Pete Hodgson's recent comments that there would never be enough taxpayer money to fund all types of surgery that anyone may want to undertake.

    More here.
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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    I did a quick search on the board for "health insurance" and didn't find anything. Can someone give a short primer on what is or isn't covered, and why one would choose to buy private insurance?

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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    I don’t know much about the ins and outs of private health insurance v. public health in NZ, but I wonder if many people are now taking out health insurance because the public health system is becoming less than effective partly due to a chronic lack of doctors and medical staff, which is causing major hold ups in things like surgery.

    As they say, it’s a ‘peace of mind’ thing where you would hope to be seen and dealt with pretty quickly instead of joining a waiting list or, as has been happening on some operating lists recently, being bumped off altogether because the system just can’t cope.    

    When considering health insurance you would need to scrutinize carefully what’s on offer with each company as it can vary greatly.  Someone who visits the doctor frequently and has health issues would probably need to consider insurance more than someone who rarely visits…..but then you never know when something is going to come out of the blue.  

    To keep costs down, many people seem to be opting for major incident policies where only more serious illnesses/operations are covered as these are the ones that would cost thousands of dollars to put right.  With this you’d need the insurance to cover 100% of the cost (or as much as possible) whereas some companies only cover a portion of it and even 20% of several thousand NZ$ is still a lot of money to find.  However, if your public health doctor refers you to a hospital then that should be free.  If you have an accident, you are covered by ACC .

    Obviously, the more things included in the cover you sign up for, the more the policy will cost.  Cover for doctor’s visits and prescription charges are offered by some policies, if you just need ‘lightweight’ peace of mind when you’re a frequent visitor to the surgery.  Again you’d have to check what percentage they’re prepared to pay out.  Some lucky folks get health insurance as part of their salary package in work so it’s worth asking about when being offered jobs.  

    As an example of health insurance companies, here’s a few sites of the bigger companies to browse through.

    Uni-care
    Southern Cross .
    Medical and Health .
    Sovereign .
    Tower .

    The NZIS site that explains (very briefly) how the public health system works.

    Another site about the health system and what you’re likely to pay for.

    If more informed information or recommendation is needed to make a decision about insurance, this guy is reputed to be very helpful tim@inform.co.nz.  He’s a financial advisor and I believe his services are free.

    So, it’s not compulsory to take on private health insurance, it’s entirely up to you and what measure of security you’re looking for.  There are some blanks in my minute amount of knowledge, so it would be good if those ‘on the ground’ who’ve had experience of public v. private health care could post a few words or comments.

    Bet you wish you hadn't asked now.
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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    This view is from a Yank, where only the poorest people qualify for subsidized health care: I think of socialized medicine as a health safety net - it makes sure that everyone can get basic health care, no matter what income level. I like this idea. There have been times when I've been uninsured, and hoped to goodness that my health remained good. However, even if we set up residence in NZ, we plan to get private insurance. I believe it would broaden the quality of health care in terms of such things as procedures allowed, physician choice, wait time for appointments and procedures.

    I knew an elderly man in NZ who had a medical problem for years. The doctors took ages testing him for this and that, but didn't figure it out until it was too late. I suspect that if he hadn't had to slog through the public health system, he might have been diagnosed sooner, and possibly have been helped before the problem killed him.
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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    Thanks for the replies. Not dissimilar to the States, where you can go to get care at a clinic if you cannot afford to pay, you will wait a long time, be seen by busy staff, and possibly not get the best treatment.

    Though I'm sure the NZ system is better in terms of the base level of service offered. If for no other reason that the government acknowledges the need and attempts to meet it, albeit less than 100% from the sounds of things.

    But opting to carry your own private insurance seems like a move toward a 2-tier system. And I wonder how that reconciles out. If you have a public health system set up to handle people in one way, and then you have another set of people placing demands on that same system through the leverage of their private contracts. That is, unless there is a completely separate system of labs and equipment, MRI machines, technicians and so forth. The whole infrastructure duplicated. Otherwise the people with the private insurance are stepping on the people coming in through the public system, by definition, if they are somehow able to jump the queue and get better, faster treatment.

    Seems a slippery slope, no?

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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    Otherwise the people with the private insurance are stepping on the people coming in through the public system, by definition, if they are somehow able to jump the queue and get better, faster treatment.
    I used to work in a hospital in the UK and experienced just this sort of thing with one of the consultants I worked for. He would initially see patients at the private hospital, then slip them onto the top of his list in our public hospital where he also had a clinic. It was very difficult for me to explain to his ordinary patients why they were continually being pushed back down the list.

    The fact was that his private patients were paying big bucks for appointments with him, but when it came to other services he couldn't provide e.g. scans, X-rays etc. he'd just slip them onto his list in the public hospital where these facilities were available on the National Health Service.

    I wouldn't like to say how it works in NZ, but it would be great if private treatment was kept totally separate from the public system, thereby alleviating pressure on those who can't afford to pay privately or who haven't got insurance.
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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    I didn't realize there were such antics going on in countries with coverage for all, but I suppose I'm not surprised. I'm not sure of the intricacies involved in competition for resources between public and private health care.

    Many municipalities in the US have a county hospital that takes just about anyone, and one or more private hospitals that cost more and might provide more state-of-the-art services. Some physicians mostly take patients with public health assistance, and some mostly take private. I can tell you that the quality of services is generally better if you can pay. Plus, the more people who can pay reduce the strain on the public health care system. I don't think that's wrong, anymore than people with enough money can drive a car while people without might have to take the slower and more limited bus.

    I definitely don't advocate bumping others less fortunate, or cutting to the front of the line just because I might have insurance. But I don't plan to reduce my options by metaphorically riding the bus if I can drive.
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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    I have o say that the standard of health care here seems better than in the UK. I had to use the system as I had tripped over the kitten and landed on a wine glass, badly gashing the back of my hand - I don't get the stitches removed till friday. I rang up the morning after the accident, got an appointment immediatedly, got it stitched up, local anaesthetic and dressed. the cost $25. Also if you need to be referred to a specialist, the cost of the appointment is in dollars what you would pay in pounds in the UK.

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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    I had to use the system as I had tripped over the kitten and landed on a wine glass, badly gashing the back of my hand
    Nasty - hope your wound is healing now, Moggy. Those pesky little critters are forever getting under our feet.

    Did you go to your doctor or to A & E dept. in the hospital for treatment? I thought, if you went to A & E, you got free treatment.
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    Default Re: Private health insurance increasing

    This is a tough one for me, Selchie. We in the US have this idea of personal freedom that if we want to buy something, or do something, with our own money, then everybody else better get out of the way.

    To continue your analogy with cars, it's the idea that "if I want to drive a hummer, and I want to spend my money that way (on 8 MPG gas) then that's my choice." But increasingly I am coming to the point of view that it is NOT okay for someone to drive a Hummer and whether they can afford it is irrelevant.

    We collectively make decisions that limit behavior in other ways e.g. the curtailing of public smoking. The same could and should be done for gas guzzlers IMHO. And... here's the leap... if private insurance undermines the public system - and I believe that it most likely does - it should be a road that a country doesn't even go down. If a person is wealthy enough there's no way to stop them from getting the treatment. They can always fly to the US (and many other countries) and pay cash on the barrel. Otherwise stay in the system and, if need be, work to make it better.

    One of the things that I was looking forward in NZ is experiencing a working national healthcare system. The idea that it is being undermined bothers me. Lord knows the US of A has proven that the capitalist way doesn't work wonders in healthcare. We spend 15% of GDP on it and look at the uninsured and uncovered, look at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...d/4554910.html

    Aren't I going to be disappointed when I get to NZ and see the hummers there too?


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