What if only 17% of people ever went to the doctor?

That would be ridiculous wouldn't it - if only 17% of people went to the doctor when sick. Imagine, most people thinking that going to a doctor was unnecessary. It would be like thinking that a doctor couldn't  really know that much more about how to be healthy, or at least recover from sickness, than you do, so why pay all that money? 

Yet that is what people think about financial advice. It is one of the of the surprising conclusions of this paper from the United States on why people do not seek financial advice. Link

Perhaps you are about to dismiss that as the product of those foolish Americans, known for strange ideas - but the Commission for Financial Capability research shows similar levels of apathy for financial affairs here. Different survey aims and objectives, but very similar results from their survey at this link (especially refer to table three). 

There is no greater enemy to financial well-being than apathy. What we focus on, we can usually find a way to improve. The big debates within the sector tend to be about how to improve. That's valuable and so much earnest energy is expended there. I am part of it and I value the struggle and enjoy it. But I have to keep reminding myself, the really big debate, the one that would make all the difference, is how to get people paying some attention. 


Detailed schedule of Partners Life Product Changes and Benefit Improvements

Partners Life Product Changes and Benefit improvements 

Special Events Increase benefit limits increased from 75% to 100% for aggregated sum insured and new special event added

Counselling Benefit increased “use by” time to 12 months after claim

Financial and Legal Advice Benefit increased “use by” time to 12 months after claim and the maximum benefit increased to $3,000

Special Events Increase deal on offer to customers who missed policy anniversaries. Customers will have a have an additional 12 months added to their 60-day time limit that applies to their immediate past anniversary

Dependent Child Funeral Support Benefit updated to include unborn child age moving to 20 weeks or weighing more than 400 grams

Bed Confinement Benefit added under the daily care of a registered nurse as an alternative requirement

Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Aplastic Anaemia, HIV (medical acquired), Multiple Sclerosis, Major Organ Transplant, Diabetes definitions changed in Trauma Cover

Non-surgical Benefit (Private Hospital and Serious Illness Benefits) annual limit increased from $300,000 to $500,000

New Public Treatment Top-Up Benefit means Partners Life will pay for some treatments after customer has covered treatment in public system.  

$5,000 maximum limit removed for Second Opinion Benefit (Private Medical Cover)

New cover for mental health consultations has a maximum of $2,500 under Surgical and Non-surgical Benefits (Private Hospital and Serious Illness Benefits)

Optional Specialists and Test now includes Podiatrist as a specialist for consultations

Cancer definition simplified in Excess Waiver Benefit.

 

Income and Expenses Cover

Income and Expenses Cover is designed to include sustainability features, remove over-insurance and moral hazard opportunity, and provide customer support

Benefit is the greater of pre-disability income less offset x 75% of life assured’s share of pre-disability monthly domestic expenses

The cover term for Income Cover and Expenses Cover is to age 65 with payments term options of 2 years, 5 years and to age 65

Pre-disability income is the same as Income Cover

Disabled for occupation classes 1-4 includes 10 hours or 75% of activities but it moves from own to reasonable occupation after 12 months

Customers will be considered to be in occupation class 5 if they have been unemployed, on unpaid leave, working less than 25 a week, incarcerated in a penal institution, or legally barred 12 months before disability

Income Cover offsets apply to Income Cover and Expenses Cover

Income and Expenses Cover has a payment term restriction that applies for medically unevidenced claims. These are not a fixed restriction for mental health claims

Unevidenced claims in the Income and Expenses Cover are paid for up to 12 months

Fixed payment terms reset for new disability for the Income and Expenses Cover, although customers must be back to full time work for more than 12 months to reset.

Disability within 12 months of claim for any reason is a recurrent disability

Income and Expenses Cover ancillary benefits include Bed Confinement Benefit, Return to Work Benefit, Increasing Income Benefit, Recovery Support Benefit (reduced to 6x SI), and Vocational Retraining and Rehabilitation Benefit (reduced to 3x SI or max $10,000)

Income and Expenses Cover ancillary benefits don’t include Lump sum TPD, Critical Illness Benefit, Specific Injury Benefit, Child Care Assistance Benefit, Death Benefit, and Return to Home Benefit

YRT option only applies.

Moderate Trauma Cover

Partners Life desires to get back to the principle of indemnification meaning that customers don’t need claims paid unless they have financial losses, and they don’t need to pay premiums that doesn’t indemnify against loss

Moderate Trauma Cover allows price efficiency, cutting out claims with immaterial financial consequences. This enables customers to afford higher sums insured.

Moderate Trauma Cover will mean future prices will be sustainable and will allow advisers to fine tune severity based on trauma solutions

Moderate Trauma Cover will have more defined conditions for Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Aplastic Anaemia, Angioplasty, Blindness, Cardiomyopathy, Chromic Kidney Failure, Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Attack, Intensive Care, Loss of Cognitive Function, Motor Neurone Disease and Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, Stroke.

Designed to be 20% cheaper than Trauma Cover (TC), price differential expected to grow

Designed to be a mid-range trauma cover (between TC and Serious Trauma Cover)

No built-in TPD, customers that need TDP will need to take TPD Cover.

Moderate Trauma Cover can be combined with TC and STC to create a severity-based trauma option.


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

6 July 2021 – IRD released a discussion document on proposals that would allow Inland Revenue to regularly collect bulk information about electronic transactions from payment service providers, with submissions closing on 20 Aug 2021. Link

6 July 2021 - The Government announced that it has agreed to establish a consumer data right framework for New Zealand. Link


Grieving: stage theory challenged

Research challenges the popular stage theory of grieving: 

"Grieving is not a stage-like, sequential, orderly, predictable process across time. Bereaved people do not (and should not expect to) go through a set pattern of specific reactions. Grief can involve complex, fluctuating, emotional reactions (sometimes experienced as a ‘‘roller coaster’’). There are different patterns of ‘‘normal’’ (as well as complicated) ways of grieving. Patterns vary greatly in terms of specific reactions, time-related changes, and duration of acute grieving period. There are large individual/cultural differences in reactions to loss. There is no sound scientific basis for Kübler-Ross’s stages."

The research recommends that those teaching on grieving or offering support for those grieving should explore some of the other research and models. More information at this link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0030222817691870 


Quality Product Research: value-based research supports evidence-based advice

We have recently had an influx of new users register on Quotemonster and would like to take the time to re-introduce our Research and Rating Methodology.

We think that using real-world data to make our research value-based makes it a lot easier to see which features and benefits really count, and which are just bells and whistles.

Our Four-Factor Research includes:

  1. Definition – the quality of the policy wording

In our definition score, we are purely looking for differences between policy wordings but will use the same sub-items across products (e.g., Agreed value, Indemnity, Loss of Earnings). We start with a score of 100 and usually make deductions according to restrictions and limitations in cover. Our approach differs for “Exclusions” as these take away from the policy so you will see this as a negative total score. A variation of this approach is also used in our rating for “Offsets.  

  1. Incidence – How likely the benefit is to be claimed

We collect data from re-insurers, statistics, underwriters, and medical experts to identify how likely each benefit will be claimed on.

  1. Amount – How much would be paid

Here we identify how much each insurer will pay. In trauma insurance, some companies pay the full benefit for an item, others only make a payment of 10% or 20% of the sum insured because the condition was not severe enough to warrant a full payment. Our score is varied according to how much would actually be paid. For some benefits, we create a claims scenario to determine the amount paid as it is not as clear-cut.

  1. Frequency – How often the benefit would be paid

Here we determine if a claim can be made more than once. A client can only claim on life insurance once, therefore the frequency will be 100% however this is less clear-cut for Medical which is where we create a claims scenario that will reflect multiple claims over a lifetime of the policy.

We then multiply the four factors to obtain the Insurance Quality Score that you will see on Quotemonster.

Definition x Incidence x Amount x Frequency = Insurance Quality Score

Also, we don't so this alone. We take advice - from a variety of expert sources below, and also from regularly engaging with advisers and insurers. In fact, we are running two consultations right now, and receiving input from reinsurance research to update our trauma claims incidence rates. We support an evidence-based approach to advice. 

Methodology add on v1

If you would like a one-page explanation of why methodology matters please email or call the team and we can send you the methodology info-graphic. If your team has new staff members (or any that would like a refresh), we can invite them to our regular Quotemonster and Advicemonster training sessions (attendees include Insurer Product Managers and various other Industry members). Please feel free to email through contact details of those who are interested in attending (researcher@qpresearch.co.nz). 

 

 


Stats NZ update data collection approach relating to sex and gender

Stats NZ has revealed that after conducting an extensive public consultation there will be a change to the statistical standard relating to how gender, sex and variations of sex characteristics data is collected and reported. The new standard will ensure that definitions and measures are consistent and that they are inclusive of the transgender and intersex population. Stats NZ has also revealed that the collection and reporting approach is based around a human rights approach.

“An updated statistical standard will inform how agencies collect and report information on gender, sex, and variations of sex characteristics, Stats NZ said today. 

The refreshed standard makes definitions and measures consistent, provides guidance for collecting transgender and intersex population data, and is grounded in a human rights approach. 

“It’s important we collect data in an inclusive way, and our process for developing the updated standard reflects this. The refresh has involved extensive public consultation, input from government agencies, international peers, and the support of subject matter experts,’’ Government Statistician and Chief Executive Mark Sowden said.” 

Advisers and insurers also collect sex and gender information. It would be good to see the same standard applied in order to allow data sets to be compared effectively. A graphic from the Statistics NZ guide is shown below to illustrate how to ask the relevant questions. It seems that for the purposes of insurance data collection the approach recommended is to ask sex as assigned at birth and also then to ask gender (as shown in the third part of step three). When underwriting cover, however, identification of intersex variations would appear to be important. Moving these from the health questionnaire to the part of the application where sex and gender questions are asked would help some respondents a great deal. This is illustrated by the additional questions suggested in step three below.  Statistics NZ Guide to collecting gender sex and variations 2021-04-29 143507
 

 
Visit our website to read this news story and the updated standard:


Merely stating facts is not enough

In research covering more than 6,000 claims for trauma conditions across greater than 2.6 million policy years, recorded claims causes show that cancer accounted for more than 40% of male claims and more than 70% of female claims. That's a huge share. It astonishes me that claims cause was not recorded for over 1,500 claims - but this gap in the data is more likely to be due to poor /legacy management information systems, than actually paying claims without a cause, it is unlikely to affect the ratio of claims causes. 

Consider another pair of facts: in a 30 year period a male non-smoker may have about a 16% (or one in six) chance of claiming on their trauma policy. Trauma claims enjoy a high claim payment rate - it varies, but in the UK a figure of greater than 90% is common. Now consider how they interact: there is about a 1.6% chance that this person will be unable to make a claim. Trauma insurance is a good bet. 

Clients, living their lives, have little or no idea about the risks and odds. It is up to someone to tell them. What's more, if you are basing product selection decisions on long lists of things that have little or no bearing on whether a claim will be payable then the information is true, but of limited use. Weighting the features by claims likelihood is essential to helping the client make an informed decision. 


Dr David Clark voices his concern

Minister Dr David Clark is concerned about poor financial decisions made by some New Zealanders during the Covid-19 crisis and feels that advisers have a critical role to play in supporting customers in making good choices. At Dunedin Town Hall, FSC Getting in Shape event. The minister also reiterated the value of a consumer data right and new conduct law. 
 
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Government response to public cancer care limitations

NZ Herald has reported on Mandy Grantley’s cancer story. After Mandy was first diagnosed with bowel cancer she underwent chemo for six months. After finding out that the cancer had spread to her lungs, an additional six months of chemo and an unfunded drug, Cytoxan was recommended by three oncologists working within the public health sector. Mandy was informed that she could have her chemo at her local DHB hospital. She was told that she had to pay $64,000 for the drug herself and was redirected to a private clinic to have the drug administered. The drug was intended to simply prolong her life. With a young family, a struggling business, and an existing mortgage Mandy and her friends decided to set up a Givealittle page to raise funds. The experience made Mandy reassess the public health system. National deputy leader Shane Reti is seeking MPs to support his bill that will allow privately-funded cancer medicines to be administered through DHBs. In response, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has said that Labour wouldn’t support the bill as it would be adding to existing inequalities. Instead, the Government would focus on funding more cancer treatments through Pharmac.

“A woman battling cancer says heartbreak has turned to anger at the way she was forced to pay $64,000 for treatment advised by public health oncologists.

Mandy Grantley was given two years to live after bowel cancer spread to her lungs last year.

"They found a tumour in my bowels and removed it, which was all good," she told RNZ. "I had six months worth of chemo. After that I had a scan and it all looked good. It wasn't until last year during lockdown I was told over the phone it had spread to my lungs."

Grantley said she was then told by three different oncologists working within the public health system that her best course of action would be another six months of chemo alongside being administered unfunded drug, Cytoxan.

She was told she would need to go to a private clinic to have the drug administered after paying for the drug herself, and then go to get chemo at her local DHB hospital. The news was traumatic and overwhelming.

"The chemo was bad enough, but then being told you had to pay $64,000 for a private drug, which won't cure me but will prolong my life, and a better quality of life, I just thought, I can't do this.

"I have three young kids and a husband with a struggling business, we don't have $64,000. We would be remortgaging the house, which we already had a huge mortgage on."

Concerned for her family, Grantley persevered and two friends set up a Givealittle page and managed to raise the money.

The private drug cost her $27,000. To get it administered she had to pay a private clinic $36,000.

Grantley says she knows how lucky she is, but remains angry others will not be able to access money or credit to save their own lives.

"It makes me sick to my stomach that others out there don't have that opportunity ...  those poor families behind me - it's just wrong," she said.

Having to go to two different medical facilities was also stressful and time-consuming, with Grantley relying on people to drive her to and from the clinic and public hospital, she added.

To add insult to injury Grantley had to pay $8000 GST on her treatment. The experience has made her reassess the merits of the public healthcare system and the Government's priorities.

"They're making money out of me dying. So much for a free health system. When you really need it, you're on your own and you don't know what it's like until someone close to you goes through it. I was really upset, I was heartbroken. But now I'm just damn well angry."

Grantley finished her treatment in November and her scans since have come back clear, the latest a scan in February. She has another scan this month and remains hopeful.

"I've never felt so good, never felt so healthy."

She said her health outcome so far had proved the efficacy of Cytoxan as an anti-cancer drug.

National deputy leader Shane Reti is asking MPs to support his bill seeking to allow privately-funded cancer medicines to be administered through DHBs, to reduce the financial burden on those with cancer.

However, Finance Minister Grant Robertson told RNZ the Government would not be supporting the bill when it comes before Parliament because it would only add to existing health inequalities.

"It is a challenging area where people are self-funding the drugs because obviously for the most part what we want to do is fund people's treatment through the public system and then all of the costs and so on associated with it are managed that way," he said.

"The reason that we're not looking to move in this area is because what effectively it would mean is that somebody who does have enough resources to fund their own treatment would end up taking up space in the public health system that would otherwise go to people whose cancer treatment is publicly funded.

"So actually it would have the effect of exacerbating inequality rather than creating fairness."

He said the Government was instead focused on funding more cancer treatments through its Crown entity Pharmac. Click here to read more