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Health Insurance: Savings Are Possible

7 May 2002
Stone & Associates

New Zealanders concerned about rising health insurance premiums should make a full and immediate review of their existing policies, according to independent insurance brokers Stone & Associates.

The leading risk management company says plans by Southern Cross Healthcare to introduce higher premiums for older customers have highlighted the rising cost of health insurance. Southern Cross is New Zealand's largest health insurer.

Stone & Associates Managing Director Todd Jones says his company has witnessed a new surge in customer inquiries, following weekend reports about Southern Cross Healthcare's new pricing plan.

"New Zealanders are increasingly concerned about the rising cost of private healthcare," he says. "Unfortunately, with New Zealand's aging population, the problem is only going to get worse."

Mr Jones says his company's advice to anyone confused or concerned about their cover is to treat health insurance the same way they regard vehicle insurance.

"Most of us have car insurance for serious events like a bad accident. We don't rely on it to cover routine maintenance like a flat tyre or oil change. One reason many people find health insurance increasingly unaffordable is because they choose comprehensive cover, instead of paying some of the smaller bills themselves.

"Our advice to people is simple: cover yourself for the big events like the cost of specialists and major surgery."

Mr Jones believes a new wave of Southern Cross Healthcare customers are considering quitting the company.

"Judging from the feedback we have had from callers this week, the planned increases by Southern Cross are certainly not popular. But the medical insurance market is a tough one. Medical insurers have to plan long term if the are to survive."

Stone & Associates is urging consumers to shop around. Mr Jones says it is still possible for most people to find policies and cover for the more expensive medical charges and procedures.


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