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Should you get Private Health Insurance for your kids?

What we know about public health care for kids in New Zealand

With GP visits FREE to children under 14 years old, getting private health insurance for your healthy, active children may seem unnecessary. Well that was a more of a case until, of course, COVID-19 came along and change the dynamics of our public health system. 

Since COVID has entered out lives, we have seen record breaking public health system wait times - not just for adults, but now also for children. This is only for urgent ad routinely care - the elective public health care has got even longer wait times.

According to the latest wait times updated by Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, Counties Manukau, the wait times for paediatric medicine are:

  • Urgent care 1.5 months 

  • Semi-urgent care 5 months (these are the important but not "urgent" things but can easily become urgent if left to wait for long periods of time)

  • Routine care 5 months

So it is safe to say, yes, we think that private health insurance for your kids is worth considering, and there are a number of reasons as to why.

1. Protection against pre-existing conditions

A problem adults encounter, when they go to get private health insurance, is exclusion for pre-existing conditions. A pre-existing condition is a health problem that exists before you apply for a policy. This means it proposes greater risk to the insurer when they assess the risk they are taking on by insuring part or all of your health. This means if you have a pre-existing condition they are likely to exclude cover for that condition, and/or charge a higher premium and/or impose a waiting period before that condition is covered (called a review period).

If you insure your children while they are young, fit and healthy, and they will get to keep the policy when they reach 18 or 21 (depending on the insurer), they will not have any pre-existing conditions as the cover is already in place. This includes big stuff such as cancer or heart problems, but also smaller things such as allergies or asthma.

2. Affordability - kids' covers start from as little as $8 per week

The great thing about private health insurance covers for kids is that most are very affordable. Even a top-of-the-range private health insurance product for kids start from as little as $8 per week and the premiums stay that way until they are 18 - 21 of age.

By the time they become an adult, you would have set them up with a solid, quality health insurance and they will thank you for it.

3. Access to healthcare, no matter how public funding changes

With New Zealand’s aging demographics the way we are able to access public healthcare may well change in the future. The government currently spends 20% of its budget on healthcare.

We have 10 workers providing funds to care for every old age-dependent (i.e. paying tax to fund the government budget), however in the next 20 years that number is going to shift to four workers for every old age-dependent. This is almost a whopping 2.5 times the stress our current system is under.

That sort of future healthcare burden raises some questions around the sustainability of our public healthcare system. While we don’t know exactly what the future looks like, it is likely that private health insurance will play more of a role in getting the healthcare you need when you need it.

Bottom line

Most of us get private health insurance as an investment for our future selves - it is something that your future self will thank you for. The same concept stands for insuring your children's health – you are setting them up for later in life, in a time when our public health system may look very different to what it does today.


The contents of this article are for information-only and may express the opinion of the writer. This article is not be taken as personalised financial advice, as everyone’s situation is different. Please always seek advice from an insurance adviser / financial adviser before making any decisions with your personal and/or business finances.


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