New Zealand: Cross-border healthcare covered by insurance


New Zealand has limited medical facilities so it is common for locals to go to Australia for some treatment. A new health insurance from a local insurer acknowledges this by covering treatment in both countries with limited treatment elsewhere.

Another tweak is that the insurer will effectively pay its customers' health insurance if they choose not to claim and instead opt to use the public system.

The country's biggest life insurer, Sovereign, has revamped its health insurance range. Private Health Cover and Private Health Plus, give customers fast access to private treatments such as diagnostic scans and surgical treatment, avoiding lengthy waiting times in the public health system. If a policyholder opts to use the public system for a treatment that would have been covered by the policy, the following year's premium will be free, as long as the treatment required a stay in hospital of two nights or more. The new policies also allow for higher excesses of up to $4000, in response to calls from older policyholders who are struggling to pay rising health-insurance premiums as the cost of treatment continues to race up faster than inflation.

The two new policies also allow people to seek treatment in Australia. They can also go anywhere else in the world in the rare case that the wait for private treatment in New Zealand is longer than six months. Sovereign will also pay $30,000 a year towards treatment overseas if the same treatment is not available in New Zealand. There is a $300,000 a year limit for surgical treatment, and the same limit for cancer treatment.



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