Medical Insurance

Thinking about your health in New Zealand

Medical Insurance

The standard of medical treatment available in New Zealand is generally excellent, but there are long waiting lists for many surgical procedures, and before you get on the waiting list it can take months to get specialist appointments, leaving you in pain and perhaps even unable to work.

As a result, many people have medical insurance so that they don’t have to wait for access to specialists and surgery as and when required. This care is usually provided in private medical facilities.

Basically there are two types of medical insurance policy:

  1. Hospital Cover/Surgical Cover - these are cost effective policies. They are intended to provide a health safety net, and primarily covers surgery costs but can also include visits to specialists, tests and private post-operative care. Day-to-day medical expenses such as visits to GPs, X-Rays and prescriptions are not covered.
  2. Comprehensive Cover - in addition to surgical treatment, these policies can cover day-to-day medical treatment such as GP visits, dental care, optical care, physiotherapy, radiology and funeral grants. Some policies also include regular check-ups and preventative health care.

Different insurers offer different levels of cover within these two broad definitions, and some even offer discounts if you have a low level of claims or commit to a healthy lifestyle.


Health insurance premiums are set depending on age, medical history and lifestyle factors. You must answer these questions fully and honestly, or your cover could be compromised. In most cases there is no need for medicals. Some employers subsidise or pay for their employee’s health cover under group schemes.

All medical policies have exclusions and maximums, and it is important to understand what these are before you purchase cover, especially when you have a pre-existing condition. Some also have excesses, where you pay a set sum towards any health care you need and your insurer covers the rest. This can considerably reduce your premiums, so can be well worth considering.

It is advisable to have at least Hospital/Surgical private medical cover in New Zealand as this will pay for the more expensive medical procedures and cut out the waiting time for an operation, getting you back to health as soon as possible.

An example of the cost of medical insurance is $110 per month for a family (male 41, female 34 and three children) with an excess of $250 covering usual, customary and reasonable expense for private hospital admissions in NZ. Similar insurance for a couple aged 47 (female) and 50 (male) would cost upwards of $125 per month. This article was contributed by Jeremy Henderson from Broadbase International. Their UK website,, has a great range of up-to-date articles on life in New Zealand written especially for prospective migrants.

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