Should I have health insurance for my kids?
Here in Aotearoa, parents and caregivers of young children are fortunate to have access to a public health system that provides free GP care to children aged 13 and under. Anyone who’s experienced a child with a high fever, ear or throat infection, or one of the dozens of viruses that afflict young kids will know exactly how reassuring it is to be able to book a GP appointment without giving affordability a second thought.
While this ability to rely on free primary care is invaluable, it can also mean that parents and caregivers consider health insurance for Kiwi kids to be an unnecessary expense. And, for some children, it’s true that health insurance will never be needed – but for others, it’s worth its weight in gold. That’s because having health insurance for your kids means you can access specialist medical care from private healthcare providers around the country without having to wait.
As well as enabling you to avoid public health system waiting lists, it also means that you don’t have to give the cost of ‘going private’ a second thought. This is invaluable in many instances – for example, when children:
- Experience chronic eczema that requires ongoing specialist care from a dermatologist.
- Have recurrent ear infections and would benefit from grommets, which are often considered a non-urgent surgery in the public health system.
- Are diagnosed with a severe illness, such as cancer.
One mum explains how having health insurance for her children paid dividends – not just financially, but (most importantly) in terms of peace-of-mind:
“When we found out we were having our first child, we put health insurance on the list of ‘things to do before baby comes’ and made sure it was organised before he was born. He was a happy, healthy baby that – aside from the usual bugs that all kids experience – was lucky enough never to suffer anything that required more than a visit to the GP.
So, when we discovered that our second child was on the way, we thought twice about whether we needed to spend money on insurance – especially as I wasn’t working at the time and we were on a budget. Thank goodness we decided to do it!
While we are fortunate that our second son is fundamentally happy and healthy, he has had ongoing struggles with a range of issues that have needed specialist care. Early on it became apparent that he would need regular visits to a specialist paediatrician – and that’s where the health insurance was a godsend. Rather than waiting for months to be seen by a paediatrician in the public heath system, we were able to book in with a private paediatrician immediately, without giving the $400 per appointment cost a second thought.
He’s also needed to see various other specialists throughout his life, and every time we’ve been able to book an appointment immediately without worrying about cost. The peace-of-mind that this has given us is incredible.” – Lisa from Auckland, Mum to two boys aged 7 and 10.
When weighing up whether to insure your children, it’s also worth considering that some policies also give you access to medications that aren’t covered by Pharmac. This is an important consideration because there are life-saving treatments and drugs available that the government don’t subsidise, meaning if you want it you have to pay for it. This is a situation many New Zealanders face, and that health insurance can solve. Not all health insurance contracts are the same though, so make sure you talk to an adviser about the best policies for your family.
While taking out health insurance for your children may mean adjusting your household budget in other areas, if you can make the financial commitment then it is well worth doing so. Interested in talking to an expert about what kids health insurance options are best for your family? Plus4 registered financial advisers are here to help. They have comprehensive knowledge of children’s health insurance and can provide you with the information you need.