Insurance outside the U.S. (read it and weep too)

insurance1– Another American Expatriate, Curtis Owings, here in New Zealand writes (below) about insurance and how it is a different experience from what folks in the U.S. know.

– Wake up Americans.   It doesn’t have to be as bad as it is.

– Here in New Zealand, the government has created the ACC (or Accident Compensation Corporation) to cover all accidents for New Zealand residents or visitors.

– The result of this is that businesses do not require Liability Insurance and Vehicles do not require accident insurance.  And, there are NO lawsuits over who was responsible for an accident.

– Nice, eh?  These are major simplifications and cost savings to the people living here.

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There is no requirement for “insurance”. In NZ the “insurance” providers only have access to more (and generally faster) elective medical options. But every one legally in the country is entitled/covered by the national health care system. The optional health insurance agencies provide all the same services, but do so from private facilities that have more capacity–so you’re really paying for convenience, not better care. If you need to file an insurance claim then visit, for legal advice.

Some things are not covered by the national system like basic dentistry (check-ups), emergency rescue, and eye glasses. But the things not covered by the system are also *affordable* by comparison to the US. In Wellington we have “free” emergency rescue services by donations and fund-raising drives. These services are not always free in other areas, but again are much more affordable than in the US.

For us, the only difficulty was changing prescriptions from what we had in the US. If you are currently taking something regularly, the odds are pretty high that it will not be the same thing they prescribe here. NZ uses a single system which means that treatment methods are highly standardized across the country. If the treatment is approved and preferred, then everyone will use it. This often does not match up with practices in the US which tend to follow more options (some that work and some that don’t). There may not be 10 drugs for a particular ailment; there may only be two or three.

But the upshot is that there are never any claim forms to deal with, you can never be rejected for “coverage”, you never have to pick a coverage option, the costs do not vary, and how you get treated is consistent regardless of your job/insurance. (Again, insurance as we know it doesn’t exist here.)


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