Managing the cost of your health insurance

While it’s great news that sophisticated medical treatments mean we’re generally living longer and healthier lives, the impact of this on the cost of health insurance can quickly add up – particularly as we grow older. If your health insurance premiums are increasing, here’s how you might manage your costs and maintain the level of cover that suits you.


The cost of good health

Good health comes at a cost - a fact reflected by the jump in New Zealand's private medical claims paid which rose from $800 million in 2010 to over $1 billion in 2016.

As we grow older, more complex treatments can be required more often and treatment costs can quickly add up. That's why it's common for health insurance premiums to increase over the life of your policy.

Typical treatment costs


  1. Adenotonsillectomy
    $4,000 - $6,800
  2. Grommets
    $2,000 - $4,200
  3. Strabismus (squint surgery)
    $4,800 - $7,600
  4. Gastroscopy
    $2,500 - $2,700
  5. Hernia repair
    $3,900 - $7,000

Adult (20 - 60 years old)

  1. Sinus surgery
    $6,400 - $29,000
  2. Cardiac ablation
    $24,200 - $44,500
  3. Mastectomy (unilateral)
    $8,300 - $18,600
  4. Gall bladder removal
    $8,100 - $16,500
  5. Endometriosis surgery
    $8,600 - $34,700
  6. Hernia repair
    $4,900 - $15,900

Senior (60+ years old)

  1. Cataract surgery (one eye)
    $3,500 - $5,800
  2. Coronary angioplasty
    $15,000 - $37,300
  3. Valve replacement
    $59,500 - $83,600
  4. Colonoscopy
    $1,800 - $4,000
  5. Hip replacement
    $17,900 - $31,200
  6. Robotic prostatectomy
    $32,500 - $35,900

Source: Sovereign Health Claims Data, 1 July 2017 - 30 June 2018


Controlling your health insurance costs

A way to reduce the premium you pay, while maintaining the same level of private health cover, is to increase the excess on your policy. The excess is the amount you would contribute for treatment, with your insurer paying the outstanding balance.

For example, if you were covered for a $29,000 hip replacement operation and you had a $500 excess, you’d pay $500 and the insurer would pay the remaining $28,500.

The higher the excess you choose, the lower the premium you’ll pay. The example below shows how increasing the excess on your policy can reduce your premiums.


Jane is a 45 year old non-smoker and is considering taking out ASB Private Health Cover. Here is an illustration of the discounts Jane could receive on her monthly premium by opting for a higher excess:

Monthly premium
No excess
$250 excess
$500 excess
$750 excess
$1,000 excess
$2,000 excess
$4,000 excess

The excess applies per life assured, per policy year.

Premiums and discounts are shown for Private Health based on Sovereign data as at 1 September 2017, and all calculations exclude policy fees.  Underlying premium rates and discounts are not guaranteed, and subject to change.

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The availability of insurance cover is subject to your application being approved. All applications are subject to individual consideration. Special conditions, exclusions or premium loadings may apply. An excess may apply for health insurance policies. For full details refer to the Policy Document which is available on request from any ASB branch. Life, health and disability insurance is underwritten by Sovereign Assurance Company Limited ("Sovereign"). None of ASB Bank Limited or its subsidiaries, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, or any other company in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Group, or any of their directors, or any other person, guarantees Sovereign or its subsidiaries, or any of the products issued by Sovereign or its subsidiaries.

Health insurance Managing the cost of your health insurance