02.01.02. The private health sector | New Zealand

02.01.02. The private health sector | New Zealand

14 Sep 2022

Because of universal health coverage for accidents and acute care, private insurance uptake in NZ is low and accounts for 5-7% of health care costs a year (Ministry of Health, 2016; OECD, 2019). However, if a condition is a non-emergency condition, in the public system, people usually need to go through an assessment process and qualify for ‘elective’ treatment. Common elective treatments include hip or knee replacement, heart surgery, cataract removal, and diagnostic services such as endoscopy, laparoscopy, MRI scans, tonsillectomy, and grommets. Private health insurance helps with the cost of many non-urgent procedures and provides faster access to private hospitals for the treatment.

About one third of adults (35%) and 28% of children were covered by private health insurance in 2015 (Ministry of Health, 2016) with Māori and Pacific people less likely to report having private insurance. Most private health insurance (~80%) is paid for by the individual or a family member.


Ministry of Health. (2016). Private Health Insurance Coverage 2011–15: New Zealand Health Survey. Ministry of Health website. Available from: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/private-health-insurance-coverage-2011-15-new-zealand-health-survey.

OECD. (2019). Health at a Glance. OECD iLibrary. Available from: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/4dd50c09-en.pdf?expires=1590900931&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=BCC881772EE98968D2EB1E3A0E0684C2.