Kiwis Paying Less for Good Health

What price can you put on good health? A new global report on the costs of private hospital surgery shows that compared to Americans, Kiwis have got it good!


Anybody who has visited Uncle Sam can attest to how cheap the country can be. From gas to burgers, electronic goods and clothing, everyday living in the good ole US of A is a lot easier on the pocket than here in NZ. Due to lower sales taxes and the economies of scale, your dollar goes a lot further. However, it ain’t all nickels and dimes … somethings are a lot more expensive in the land of the free, including health care.


Every few years, the International Federation of Health Plans (iFHP) issues a report into the cost of health care around the globe. The report compares the prices paid by private health insurance companies for different health services in nine countries with equally advanced health care systems.


In its latest report, the iFHP shows that New Zealanders are getting a good deal compared with their stateside cousins. The costs of many of the most common major surgical procedures performed here are half the price of the same operations performed in the USA, and are on a par with costs over the ditch in Australia.


  • Angioplasty: Inserting a stent in a blocked blood vessel to improve blood flow

US: $48k             NZ: $25k (52% of US cost)             OZ: $22k (46% of US cost)

  • Heart bypass: Restoring heart blood flow by diverting blood around a blocked vessel

US: $116k             NZ: $57k (49%)             OZ: $54k (47%)

  • Hip replacement: Replacing a hip joint with a prosthetic implant

US: $49k               NZ: $25k (51%)                  OZ: $31k (63%)

  • Appendectomy: Removing an appendix

US: $22k               NZ: $10k (45%)                  OZ: $6k (27%)

  • Knee replacement: Replacing a knee joint with a prosthetic implant

US: $45k               NZ: $27k (60%)                  OZ: $28 (62%)

NB: All NZ$


Compare health insurers for free with Canstar!

Overall, when compared with other countries New Zealand sits alongside Australia midway in the health-care cost stakes, and compares favourably with the UK and Switzerland. In only two categories did we match or surpass America’s steep prices:

  • An outpatient angiogram costs $1,836 in NZ and $1,895 in the US.
  • Outpatient cataract surgery is $4,478 in NZ and $3,597 in the US (24% cheaper).


As a percentage figure across all the measured categories for surgeries that require a stay in hospital:

South Africa 28% of US costs
Holland 27%
UK 44%
Switzerland 44%
Australia 51%
New Zealand 51%


Although in NZ we’re lucky to have access to a world-class health care system, a third of New Zealanders also have private health insurance. According to the latest data from the Health Funds Association of New Zealand, increasingly this coverage is for elective surgical and specialist cover, which now accounts for 70% of health insurance in New Zealand. This is a reflection of the difficulty in accessing public-funded surgery for the procedures detailed above, and why choosing the correct cover for you and your family is essential.


There are several options for Kiwis when it comes to health insurance. Find out which one suits you best by using Canstar’s comparison tool here.

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