8 March 2016
When I became a parent over 20 years ago my husband and I decided to take out health insurance for the whole family.  This may seem a logical course of action for an Insurance Broker (which I am now) but at that time I was working in the Public Health System.
My reasoning for getting health insurance wasn’t from a lack of faith in the Public Health System –   I was proud to be working in a system that delivered high quality health care to the general public no matter what their financial situation was.  However I did see gaps in the system and as a parent my preference was to have an alternative in accessing health care as well as the Public Health System.  
The gaps were in 2 places.  This first was the waiting period for elective surgery.  “Elective” means that it is not “emergency” or “Acute” ie did not to be done immediately.  With Emergency care the service and resources provided by the Public Health System were exceptional but for “Elective” surgery and treatments there were waiting lists and sometimes the waiting period was unacceptable.  I knew that the length of time waiting for surgery or treatment could affect not only the quality of life while the person was on the waiting list, but in some instances it also affected the results in recovery ie the longer it would take to get the treatment the longer the recovery would take or the results of the recovery were not as successful as  it would have been had the treatment been done earlier.  For me I wanted my family to have the treatment required in the quickest possible time.
The other gap that I saw was in the procedures and treatments that could NOT be offered in the Public Health system.  To be honest that didn’t seem to be such a high priority as it never occurred to me that essential treatments could not be offered through the health system.  However since then there have been 2 highly publicised issues that have shown where the preferred treatment could not be offered resulting in catastrophic consequences to some members of our community.  The availability of Herseptin for the treatment of Breast Cancer and the current issue of Keytruda not being funded for the treatment of Melanoma.
While we don’t know what will happen to our family and what we could require treatment for we now know that our public health system cannot guarantee that we will get the preferred treatment within the preferred time frames.  
Health insurance is not the miracle answer to the issues that the Public Health system is experiencing but it is a massive step towards freeing up resources and providing funding for essential care and treatment for all members of our community. 

Published In Whakatane Beacon

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Trish Marsden - who has written 96 posts

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