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Growth Outstrips Previous Year

15 December, 2006


Five-Month Growth Outstrips Previous Year For Southern Cross

Growth trends in health insurance reported by the Health Funds Association of New Zealand have been especially strong within New Zealand’s largest provider, Southern Cross Medical Care Society, which said today that its July to November membership growth had outstripped its membership growth in the whole financial year to June 30, 2006.

Southern Cross Group Chief Executive, Dr Ian McPherson, said from 1 July to November 30 2006, the not-for-profit medical insurer had increased membership by 11,333 – almost 4,000 more than its membership growth of 7,359 in the preceding 12 months.

“I cannot recall a time when demand was so strong,” said Dr McPherson.

“People are recognising the value of health insurance, particularly as the realisation sets in that the public system cannot fund everything for everyone on demand.

“Topical issues have kept health uppermost in people’s minds. We have seen reviews of waiting lists with people returned to their GP’s care. We have seen strikes with subsequent delays in elective surgery and we have seen a trend toward shifting costs, such as lab tests, onto private patients. All of these make people more aware of the demands on the public system and they are seeing insurance as a necessity rather than a luxury.

“We see this growth trend as confirmation that we are offering value for money, despite the need to increase premiums during 2006/07. People are placing a value on being able to access care with certainty around timing.”

Dr McPherson did not think the rise in health insurance demand was a vote of no confidence in the public sector.

“When people are treated in the public sector they are generally looked after very well. But people also realise that despite increasing public health expenditure, the public system simply cannot fund everything, especially in areas such as elective surgery.”

ENDS

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