« March 2016 | Main | May 2016 »

How to Avoid Health Insurance 'Bill Shocks' After Surgery

This article on Stuff highlights that high-cost surgeons may charge up to double the price of others to do the same operations.

"Health insurance policyholders can be left with big bills after surgery, if they are sent to one of the country's most expensive surgeons.

Avoiding bill shocks running from hundreds to thousands of dollars, can be hard for patients as it is not always clear whether their doctor is referring them to a high-cost surgeon.

Many health insurance policies are "shared cover" policies like Southern Cross' popular Regularcare policy where holders pay 20 per cent of the costs of treatment.

So if their keyhole hysterectomy costs them $20,700 as it was done by one of the more expensive surgeons, they'll end up with a "gap" of $4140."

A Lesson in Distinctive Branding: The Use of "Co-op" Not Restricted

In an article titled "co-op cock-up" Alex McDonald, a barrister specialising in intellectual property disputes, examines the use of the term "co-op" by both a service business supporting credit unions and The Co-operative Bank. There are five concluding points useful for anyone contemplating a re-branding or the role of brand names in their business. The first point, to have the courage to stand out from the crowd, is the foundation. Without that you will fail to create something distinctive and interesting, limiting scope for both positive brand value contribution and effective defence of any value created. Read the whole article. 

Southern Cross: "...it's alarming" that Kiwis don't know the cost of surgery

Southern Cross chief executive Peter Tynan, says "With over half of elective surgeries being funded privately in New Zealand ... it's alarming that so few know what these procedures actually cost".

Although it might be alarming, it is also understandable. Most consumers do not understand the cost of anything that they haven't got a special interest in or had to buy recently. That applies as much to the cost of renovations to their home, the cost of nursing home care, or that of most university courses. 

This article on Stuff shows just how little people are about the cost of private surgery with many of them underestimating the cost of major and minor surgeries significantly. There is great material here for insurance advisers looking for good statistics to help in the sales process of private medical cover. 

Surgeries are usually paid for in one of three ways:

"The state healthcare system pays for people willing to wait months, or even years, for their date with the surgeon's scalpel, or those unable to afford health insurance. Many surgeries are done through health insurers, with patients paying a portion of the bill, either through an excess, or through a "co-payment" of about 20 per cent on some policies. The remainder of surgeries are paid for by people from their private savings."

PAA Will Not Advertise Company Product Launches in Future

In a recent email PAA CEO Rod Severn say that they will not promote company product launch invitations in the future. Their statement reads: 

"The PAA believes that all members should keep up to date with product development relative to the discipline they specialise in. However, please be advised that this type of communication will not be sent to members in the future, as this contravenes the Associations stance regarding impartiality and neutrality, and that the Board have made it clear that the PAA membership database is not to be used for the purpose of general invitations of this nature."

Bank Insurers Argue Against "Sales" vs "Advice" Distinction

David Chaplin reports: 

"Banks have mounted an all-out attack on Financial Advisers Act (FAA) reform proposals to clearly distinguish ‘sales’ from ‘advice’ setting themselves at odds with industry bodies and consumers."

and also adds for clarity that

"...the big four Australian-owned banks and Kiwibank all strongly argue against introducing a formal distinction between ‘salesperson’ and ‘financial adviser’ into the regulatory mix."

Those a pretty strong words from David. I was interested in how we know that consumers would like a clearer distinction, and you might be too: 

"An accompanying MBIE survey also found almost 90 per cent of consumers said “clarifying the difference between ‘sales’ and ‘financial advice’ would help them better understand what they are receiving”

Read the balance of the article at this link

Why Big Insurers Should Cosy Up to NGOs and Open Government Types

Insurers should be interested in the moves towards more openness around government data, aligning themselves with NGOs, open government activists, and their customers. There is a great deal to be gained if insurers could access more data: 

  • An accurate history of prescriptions and tests for applying customers
  • Copies of all consultants notes for applying customers
  • Big data insights into disability and treatments

I am sure much more could be found and learned if there was more data available. I know of only one consultant and one insurer that is actively working in this area - actually meeting with officials and seeking to change their views on access. There should be more. Do contact us if you are interested in discussing the matter further. Link to the article on Politik.