Public Hospital Waiting Lists

Have you ever wondered how many people are on public hospital waiting lists?  Just about every week, we see news headlines that our public health system is under pressure.

Below is a headline that hit the NZ Herald on 21st October 2019 which read;

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.

It can be done for $7500 privately 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 on the family is not just emotional but financial as well, which adds to the stress of not getting the treatment in the first place.

This is where private insurance could have helped.

This article is not in any way directed at Teresa Peters and pointing the finger that they should have had insurance, but it is a regular scenario that may help you understand what private insurance could do for you if you were in the same situation.

  • Private health insurance that covers diagnostic procedures would have paid for the Endoscopy Ultrasound, and then a quicker diagnosis of her condition could be made, and the next stage of treatment can begin.
  • There are Income Protection insurance policies that will pay you, your insured income if you have to leave your work to take full-time care of a family member.
  • Private Income Protection 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 there is no accident.  Also, with some income protection policies, you are entitled to a daily benefit if you are hospitalised for three days or more.
  • Household Expenses 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 Medical Insurance cover.

Before you wonder whether having your private medical insurance is worth it, consider these figures. Private medical insurers paid claims for the quarter of $343 million, up 3.7 percent on 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/taxpayer didn’t pay for.

If you would like to talk about your private medical insurance cover, please contact us today. public hospital waiting lists