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Low Claim Reward To Add Impetus To Public Health

Media Information
12 September 2004

Southern Cross low claim reward to add impetus to
public health messages

The country’s biggest health insurer is putting its weight behind the healthy living message, and will back it up with up to $30 million worth of premium discounts.

Group Chief Executive, Dr Ian McPherson, says Southern Cross will launch a 10% low claim reward to its members from the middle of 2005, to add impetus to public health awareness campaigns.

“New Zealand is facing some serious health issues. Public health campaigns like Smokefree and Push Play are trying to address those issues by highlighting the health benefits of lifestyle choices. As the health insurer for around one in every five New Zealanders, we’ve resolved to back that up with tangible financial incentives.”

Dr McPherson says the low claim reward initiative will reduce premiums for around 70% of the Society’s adult members on individual or voluntary group scheme policies. “We expect that will translate into savings for Southern Cross members totaling around $30 million.”

“The traditional role of health insurance has been to provide access to healthcare when people are sick. We want to expand and supplement that role by actively encouraging good health.”

The low claim reward follows other Southern Cross initiatives aimed at encouraging good health. In December 2003 it introduced a Healthy Lifestyle Reward with its Wellbeing insurance plan, which discounted premiums for new members based on a simple questionnaire addressing smoking, drinking, exercise and healthy eating.

“The low claim reward is the next progression, based on the assumption that healthy lifestyle choices translate into fewer claims. We will recognise and reward lower claiming through cheaper insurance premiums.”

Dr McPherson says the low claim reward scheme is an innovative adaptation of the no claim discounts offered by many vehicle insurers.

“A no claim discount on vehicle insurance discourages people from claiming for small dings and dents. That approach would be completely at odds with our philosophy of enabling better access to health care.

“We are adapting the concept into a low claim scheme that provides simple and direct financial rewards for healthy people, without creating a financial obstacle for members who need treatment. We are in the business of helping people.

“A $45 visit to the GP can mean a quicker return to health and prevention of longer-term health problems, so we’re saying to members ‘don’t hesitate to go to the doctor when you need to’.”

Dr McPherson says the low claim threshold will vary depending on a member’s plan type. “As an indication, a 40 year old member on our RegularCare plan would be able to claim back treatment costs averaging up to $300 a year, and still earn the 10% low claim discount. An older member who pays more in premiums would have a higher threshold.”

The Low Claim Reward Scheme is unique in the New Zealand health insurance market, and will begin to roll out to qualifying Southern Cross members from May 2005, at the start of the insurer’s next annual renewal cycle.

It will be available on most Southern Cross plan types for adult members who pay their own premiums (ie are not part of a subsidised employer scheme).


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