By Sarah Hallman, New ScientistA new law in New Zealand aims to make it easier for people to buy their own medical insurance.
The bill passed by New Zealand’s Parliament on Thursday will allow people to purchase coverage from the Health Insurance Corporation, which is the government agency for covering the medical costs of people with chronic conditions.
It also allows Kiwis to purchase their own prescription drugs.
The new law was introduced in April and will be brought in into effect on July 1.
The aim is to help people with conditions such as cancer, stroke, heart disease and arthritis.
“This is a major step forward for New Zealand,” said Dr. Helen Macdonald, who heads the New Zealand Institute of Health Policy and Management, in a statement.
“It means that the health insurance market will now be more open and accessible to all, while also ensuring that people with high-cost conditions can access the care they need to live well.”
New Zealanders will now have the option to buy health insurance through the Health and Social Care Information Centre, which has been operating in the country since 1996.
The centre will be able to offer both generic and branded insurance options.
It has seen an increase in requests from people with health problems.
It currently offers coverage for people over 55 and for people with Type 2 diabetes.
It will also now be able cover people with pre-existing conditions and those with certain chronic conditions such, for example, arthritis.
“The new legislation will enable people with serious chronic conditions to access comprehensive health insurance plans at lower cost,” Dr. Macdonald said.
“This will make it possible for people who have high-risk conditions, such as those with stroke or heart disease, to get the care and support they need.”