How many people are on public hospital waiting lists?

Would that wait really affect you if you fell ill?

Just about every week, we see news headlines that our public health system is under pressure. Below is an excerpt from the NZ Herald on 21st October 2019:

Waikato mum suffering chronic pain told she can either pay $7500 for a scan or go on the waiting list.

A woman who has been suffering chronic pain for more than a year has been told she’ll need to wait until next month for a test that could be done within a couple of days – if she pays $7500 through a private specialist.

Teresa Peters has been in and out of hospital at least seven times since first experiencing “excruciating” pain in her lower abdomen last October.

She now needs an endoscopy test to find out if she has chronic pancreatitis, a risk factor for cancer, but says Waikato District Health Board keeps delaying the scan.

Source: NZ Herald

Public hospital waiting lists can grow and change as criteria for eligibility changes.  It can be easy to be pushed back if the criteria change for the treatment or diagnostic procedures you need now.

Although we do not know all the facts in the case of Teresa Peters, it appears that she needs a diagnostic procedure to determine the next steps in her health care then.

The problem is that the delays in her getting an Endoscopy Ultrasound means that no diagnosis can be made and she is in limbo until that can happen.

But it could be done for $7500 tomorrow…

As crazy as it may sound, she could get the Ultrasound she needs, as early as tomorrow, but in a private clinic at $7500, which is simply unaffordable for this hard-working family.

How bad are the finances now

“It’s got so bad my partner’s had to stop working to take care of me and look after the kids.”

Her partner was managing a farm and the house they were living in was a package deal, so they were forced to move after he resigned and are now living off benefits.

“Our finances have taken a huge hit, last week my partner had to go down to the foodbank to ask for food.”

Source: NZ Herald

The impact that ill health has had on the family is not just emotional, but financial as well, which only adds to the stress.

Here a few key points that may help you understand what Private Medical Cover could do for you in the same situation.

  • Insurance that covers diagnostic procedures would pay for the Endoscopy Ultrasound, so a quicker diagnosis of the condition can be made, allowing the next stage of treatment to begin.
  • Income insurance will pay you a set amount each month if you have to leave your work to take full-time care of a family member, and will replace your income if you are unable to work due to sickness or accident.  (In this particular scenario, there is no ACC assistance because an accident has not occurred.)
  • Some Income Protection and Medical policies allow a daily benefit if you are hospitalised for three days or more.
  • Household Expense Cover would pay for your fixed household expenses, including your rent if you are unable to work, or if you are a homeowner with a mortgage, then mortgage repayment cover is an option.

How to avoid the public hospital waiting lists

The best way to avoid these waiting lists is to have your own insurance cover.  If you’re wondering whether having private medical insurance is worth it, consider these figures.

Private medical insurers paid claims for the of $343 million, up 3.7 percent on the previous June 2018 quarter; annual claims paid for June 2019 year of $1.335 billion up $93 million (7.5 percent)on June 2018 year claims.


That’s over $1.3 billion the government cover! Worth thinking about…?

If you would like to talk about your private medical insurance cover, please contact your INNOVEST adviser today.

Public Hospital Waiting Lists