Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector
Dr David Clark voices his concern

nib reveal benefits of COVID-19 support package

It has been a year since nib begun offering members its COVID-19 support package. nib has revealed that over 2,000 members were relieved from paying over $870,000 as a result of premium waivers and suspensions. Another 2,500 members were granted a six-month pre-approval extension for any delayed medical treatments. nib CEO Rob Hennin has said that nib is pleased that the support package ensured that members maintained their medical cover regardless of their financial circumstance. Hennin has noted that although the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over it is rewarding seeing confidence in the healthcare sector returning.

Community initiatives that nib is backing have also had positive impacts. A $150,000 grant helped Lifeline Aotearoa to meet increased demand. Lifeline Aotearoa reported receiving 20% more crisis calls because of the impacts of the pandemic. With the support of nib, Clearhead offered over 850 one-on-one mental health telehealth sessions and developed a platform in Te Reo to bridge barriers.

“It’s been 12 months since leading health insurer, nib New Zealand (nib), launched its COVID-19 support package to assist its members and the wider community impacted by the pandemic. Released last April, the package provided access to a range of initiatives to support member’s individual health and financial needs during the crisis.

More than $870,000 was provided in financial assistance in the form of premium waivers and suspensions, helping over 2,000 nib members maintain their health cover. Around 2,500 members were also automatically granted a six-month pre-approval extension for any medical treatment delays they may have experienced.

nib Chief Executive Officer, Rob Hennin, said swiftly introducing immediate support and expanding assistance as the pandemic unfolded and needs changed has enabled members to continue to put their health first.

“It’s been a particularly hard year for many, and the pandemic has highlighted how important our health really is to us all. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to support our members to maintain their health during this challenging period,” Mr Hennin said.

Expanded coverage for COVID-19 related treatment was provided to all members at no additional cost, while telehealth services helped members access GP or specialist services from home.

“As a health partner for our members, establishing safe and meaningful pathways for their ongoing health was a top priority. Funding telehealth services was one way we did this, and it’s become a permanent benefit for eligible members,” Mr Hennin said.

Beyond the member base, nib together with nib foundation, provided $1 million in funding to community initiatives across both New Zealand and Australia to assist with the increasing demand for mental health support during the pandemic.

“Last year alone, Lifeline Aotearoa received a 20% spike in crisis calls as a direct result of the pandemic’s impact on our mental health. Our $150,000 grant assisted them to provide more than 2,300 additional hours of counselling as well as further training to help meet the surge in demand for services,” Mr Hennin said.

“In addition, our support of Clearhead has helped facilitate over 850 one-on-one mental health telehealth sessions for Kiwis and medical providers at no additional cost. It also enabled the development of a Te Reo version of the platform helping to reduce the cultural and language barriers often faced by Māori communities when seeking mental health support,” he added.

Mr Hennin said that while the fight against COVID-19 wasn’t yet over, it was rewarding to see that nib’s efforts to support its members and the community were having a positive impact and that confidence in the healthcare sector was returning.

“With many people unable to get the treatment they needed or being fearful of going to the hospital during the height of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see the volumes of claims returning to preCOVID levels. It gives us peace of mind, knowing our members are getting the necessary healthcare treatment to continue looking after their health and wellbeing,” he. said.”

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