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Privately and Publicly Jane Cares for Health

Privately and Publicly Jane Cares for Health

June 23, 2014

A commitment to the health and disability sector, both personal and professional, has inspired an Auckland lawyer to become involved in New Zealand’s health sector governance.

Jane Bawden’s involvement with the health and disability sector has been significant over the past 20 years.

Jane’s introduction to the sector first began in the 1990s as a lawyer and risk manager for what has now become the Auckland DHB. She recalls a warning from a colleague at National Women’s Hospital that the health sector was addictive “and that certainly has been my experience,” she says.

The birth of a son with complex disabilities led Jane to further involvement with the sector both personally and professionally. Her early governance roles were with Autism New Zealand and the Standards and Monitoring Service which provides valuable assistance to adults with intellectual disabilities and their families.

“These early governance roles coupled with my own experience as a consumer/family member in the health and disability sector have given me a strong understanding of the power and value of the consumer voice in whatever field I’m involved with,” Jane says.

In addition many clients in her broad based legal practice seek advice on health and disability issues. “I act for providers and consumers in the sector on a range of commercial and quality-related issues.”

It was only natural that her commitment to good governance would lead her to health insurance. “I just love it. The health and welfare of a person is of vital importance,” she says.

“Through my involvement in governance I’ve become passionate about the nation’s sustainable provision of quality healthcare.”

Jane saw an opportunity to contribute and influence the debate by becoming a member of the Accuro Health Insurance Board and, more recently, its chairperson.

Accuro is a New Zealand owned, not for profit insurer and that appealed to Jane. Its origins began in the health profession which Jane has served for 20 years.

Jane has a strong message for young people and parents at home who take on the role of financial planners for their family.

She firmly believes that too many young people consider their car is more valuable than their health. “The first thing they do when buying a vehicle is to insure it in case of damage to their car or someone else’s,” she says.

“I applaud their decision however it’s even more important for young people to take out a warranty on their health,” she says.

“It’s totally responsible for them to have their car, house and possessions insured but they take their health for granted. They can’t enjoy any of those if they develop a medical condition or face rehabilitation after surgery.”

Jane Bawden believes many young people who enjoy active leisure, especially extreme sports, don’t factor in the wear and tear on their bodies. The lives they live to the full need to be covered when problems set in.

“That’s where health insurance plays a key role in ensuring they have access to the best treatment for their medical condition,” she says.

Jane also believes that parents should play a role in providing “financial literacy for their children.”

“One way of preparing them for independence is having health insurance that extends to the whole family and allows their children to retain their policies once they’ve left home,” Jane says.

Jane Bawden also emphasises the importance of parents at home in caring for the children and administering the family budget. They are the financial planners; they run the budgets and make the purchasing decisions from cars to Kiwisaver.

“Their wellbeing is crucial and a good health insurance policy that kicks in if they’re unwell or need surgery is vital to return them speedily to full health and fitness and play that essential role at home,” Jane says.

“Health insurance is the backstop if treatment or surgery is required.”

Jane Bawden is also concerned at the cost of health insurance for people no longer in paid employment, in particular the elderly. While the whole country benefits from the community having private health cover, it’s simply too expensive for some at present she says.

Her particular interest in the elderly and aged care has seen her appointed to the board of an aged care hospital and retirement village.

Jane points out that Treasury is giving New Zealand a clear view that current expenditure is unsustainable.

By being aware of the challenge to government to meet the provisions of elective surgery within reasonable timeframes, she sees an urgent need for ongoing dialogue between the government and private health providers.

“Accuro wants to lead that dialogue involving all participants within the health system. It’s essential that discussion takes place,” she says. “The burgeoning cost of health is the elephant in the room and governments haven’t faced up to it.”

Jane Bawden explains that when the public health system overflows then private hospitals provide a role in caring for people. That’s where health insurance becomes involved she explains. Without private health insurance, there won’t be private hospitals. It’s as simple as that.

“This should be seen as a partnership and private healthcare providers and funders should have a seat at all planning discussions for the sector,” she says.
As part of the conversation Jane would like to recommend a system similar to KiwiSaver which would offer flexibility in health care.

“Such a scheme must be affordable starting with 1-2 percent of income. It could be a top-up or a rebate for people over 65. What is important is that it makes provision for health care that the government can’t provide,” she says.

“New Zealand needs the government to have this conversation and it’s one that Accuro won’t abandon. It’s so important that people have choice and this is what private health insurance provides.”

Jane Bawden’s passion is for people to know that life is rich and will include unforeseen challenges and joys. She believes that the “more planning you do for your financial security, the more it frees you to enjoy life.”

She has discovered that through her family, her legal practice and her commitment to an improved health sector through good governance.

ENDS

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