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
    $3,500 - $6,500
  2. Grommets
    $1,600 - $3,800
  3. Strabismus (squint surgery)
    $5,000 - $10,500
  4. Gastroscopy
    $1,500 - $2,600
  5. Hernia repair
    $4,500 - $7,000

Adult (20 - 60 years old)

  1. Sinus surgery
    $5,000 - $29,000
  2. Cardiac ablation
    $23,000 - $43,000
  3. Mastectomy (unilateral)
    $8,000 - $16,000
  4. Gall bladder removal
    $8,000 - $16,000
  5. Endometriosis
    $9,000 - $38,000
  6. Hernia repair
    $5,000 - $13,000

Senior (60+ years old)

  1. Cataract surgery (one eye)
    $3,000 - $5,300
  2. Coronary angioplasty
    $13,000 - $26,000
  3. Valve replacement
    $47,000 - $70,000
  4. Colonoscopy
    $1,600 - $5000
  5. Hip replacement
    $18,000 - $33,000
  6. Robotic prostatectomy
    $33,000 - $36,000

Source : Sovereign Health Claims Data, 1 July 2015 - 1 July 2016


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 2016, and all calculations exclude policy fees.  Underlying premium rates and discounts are not guaranteed, and subject to change.

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Other helpful guides

The information contained here is general in nature and is not intended to be advice. If you require advice about your particular circumstances, we recommend that you speak with your ASB Insurance Manager. ASB life, health and disability insurances are underwritten by Sovereign Assurance Company Limited (“Sovereign”). For full details refer to the relevant policy document which is available on request from any ASB branch or by calling 0800 200 252. The availability of insurance cover is subject to your application being approved. Special conditions, exclusions or premium loadings may apply. See further information about Sovereign.

A minimum premium applies for all policies. Even if your policy qualifies for one or more discounts the total of these discounts cannot cause your premium to be less than the required minimum.

Health insurance Managing the cost of your health insurance