Partners Life on benefits of private health care, and more daily news

Partners Life Managing Director Naomi Ballantyne has shared some insights into the benefits of medical insurance and private health care. Ballantyne has said the difference in available treatments, waiting times, and procedure time limits in public and private health care can be vast. Ballantyne has said that the key benefits of medical insurance are having individual-specific treatments available and hospitals not bulk buying treatments. Ballantyne has expanded by saying that unlike public health care providers, the private system offers every option available, with a focus on options more specific to each circumstance. Ballantyne has noted that the only limitation to private health care is ensuring treatments are Medsafe approved and approved by specialists.

“New Zealand’s public health system takes care of millions of Kiwis each year, but when it comes to treating more complex illnesses, the benefits of having private health insurance are often not well understood – and, according to Partners Life MD Naomi Ballantyne, the difference in available treatments can be huge.

The limitations of the public system include the types of drugs it has access to, waiting times, and the time limits set on certain procedures - all of which Ballantyne says can make a significant difference to somebody’s treatment process, particularly when dealing with a physically and emotionally difficult illness, such as cancer.

She said that access to individual-specific treatments is one of the key benefits of having medical insurance, as these types of treatments are not usually subsidised and can be expensive to access without an insurer’s help.

“The public system ‘bulk-buys’ their treatments, whereas the advantage of the private system is that it doesn’t need to do that,” Ballantyne said.

“In the private system, you are offered every option that you can get, and these options are often more specific to an individual’s circumstances rather than everyone just being given the same type of chemo, for example. In the private system, the doctors can offer drugs that are specific to a person who has a certain type of illness at a specific stage, and if you have private insurance, that’s all funded.”

“As a private insurer, we are not limited to whether something is subsidised or not,” Ballantyne explained.

“We’re only limited to whether it is Medsafe approved and whether your specialist has recommended that for you. That’s a huge difference between someone who is just given a generic treatment through the public system, or someone who has to sell off their assets to try and pay for a specific drug that isn’t subsidised.” Click here to read more

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Accuro announces digital partnership, and more daily news

Accuro CEO Lance Walker has announced that Accuro has partnered with Optimation, a digital technology solutions provider, to develop a system to support innovation, efficiency, and a provide faster and more personalised digital customer services. Walker has said that the system will allow Accuro to better support new and existing members as well as helping to ensure future product implementations are more efficient. The new system will be at the center of the daily operation of Accuro, including managing policies, onboarding new members, choosing and changing plans, pricing, processing preapproval and claims, and providing services to members. The new system will help to minimise manual processes.

“According to Accuro chief executive Lance Walker, the company has teamed up with Wellington-based digital technology solutions provider Optimation to develop a new system to support innovation, efficiency, and provide faster, more personalised, digital customer services.

“As a not-for-profit cooperative insurer we are focused on delivering great customer experiences for our members and ensuring that our processes and technology enable that,” says Walker.

“This new system will allow us to better support our new and existing members and future proof us so that adding new products and services and responding to changes in the market is quicker and easier.”

The policy administration system is at the heart of Accuro’s day to day operations, including managing policies, onboarding new members, choosing and changing plans, pricing, processing preapproval and claims, and providing services to members.

“One of the real benefits we are targeting is a reduction in manual processes, which limits the ability of our team to focus on added value member servicing, and can impact on processing time and accuracy,” says Walker.” Click here to read more

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Quality Product Research: Health Insurance - major review process commenced for exclusions item rating

Introduction

Medical insurance is one of the most hotly contested areas of product comparison. Adjustments are made frequently to many features. Exclusions, however, are complex and difficult to compare. Although we update our exclusions ratings with every new product change released it is time to review the method and balance of the scoring of these items. We have therefore started the process of a major review.

Theme of review

The themes of this review are:

  1. A thorough review of all terms
  2. A focus on the relative weighting of the terms
  3. Calling for claims examples of how the terms are applied

Review process

We have alerted advisers and insurers to our plan to do a review and asked for data on the themes above. Changes will be based on our view of all the information sent to us.

We will then publish a model for changes to the guide scores for exclusions sub-items and ask for input on the proposed new model. Further changes may be made at this stage.

We are seeking claims examples for the review. Further changes may be made at this stage.

Timeline for review

March - advise review started

April - review claims information

May - consult on new model for rating

June - implement revised ratings

Your feedback

We value getting your feedback on how these wordings are being applied to claims you may be aware of. Please email us with details of any recent claims to help us update our understanding.

Doreen Dutt, Research Analyst, Quality Product Research Limited, researcher@qpresearch.co.nz


Fidelity Life announce customer research, and more daily news

Fidelity Life has announced that it will be conducting customer research on new products and potential service improvements through Qualtrics. The research is intended to understand what is working and what isn’t. Fidelity Life has revealed that new advisers have already been involved in the research. More advisers will be utilised in future research.

“We’ll shortly be kicking off some research with customers about new product ideas and service improvements with the aim of finding out what they like, so we can do more of it, and what they don’t like, so we can make improvements. Don’t worry, we won’t be bombarding them!

As valued distribution partners, we’re keen to involve you along the way. The insights will not only support how we shape our products to better meet the needs of the market but will also provide us with valuable data on their preferences when it comes to customer experience.

From time to time we’ll share a summary of the findings with you, and hope you’ll find them valuable in supporting your interactions with customers and improve their overall experience with Fidelity Life.

We’ve already experimented in engaging a few advisers in this research so we can enhance your experience and improve the way in which we work with you. We intend to do more of this in the future too, more on that to come.

We’re working with a trusted and established partner in this space and using their survey platform – Qualtrics. If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch”

In other news

From Stuff: Waiting in Pain: People without money and insurance the ones who suffer - a particularly valuable piece updating us on the situation with waiting lists and the process before that, even to get properly diagnosed. A powerful argument for having a plan and having insurance. 

FMA: March 2021 – A new financial advice regime begins for New Zealand


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

27 Jan 2021 – Privacy Commissioner announced that he will virtually chair an international Computer Privacy and Data Protection conference over 27-29 Jan, commencing NZ time 5 p.m. on Thursday, 28 Jan, with a live stream available. https://www.privacy.org.nz/resources-2/forums-and-seminars/computer-privacy-and-data-protection-conference-cdcp/

28 Jan 2021 - FMA released its review of NZX technology issues finding the stock exchange failed to meet its licensed market operator obligations due to insufficient technology resources. NZX also released a response to the FMA review. Relevant FMA and NZX web links are https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/fma-releases-review-of-nzx-technology-issues/ and https://www.nzx.com/announcements/366811

28 Jan 2021 – RBNZ released the results of a research report showing the Māori economy is increasingly diverse and opportunities remain for it to continue growing and reach its full potential. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2021/01/e-hauora-ana-e-matahuhua-ana-te-ohanga-maori-e-ai-ki-nga-rangahau


Do media hate insurance or love it?

Although it might appear that journalists love to bash insurers, it is easy to forget that there is some surprisingly useful coverage:

Last year the high-profile owner, Gabrielle Mullins of the Auckland performance venue The Powerstation, died of cancer. She was fundraising to pay for Keytruda, a chemotherapy drug not yet funded by Pharmac. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/122701023/gabrielle-mullins-the-owner-of-aucklands-powerstation-venue-dies-of-cancer. Earlier this year Michael Kooge, a radio show host, also hit the headlines with his cancer story, saying "It's all pretty unlucky, if I had medical insurance when I was in my early 20s, before I got sick, I would be able to get this treatment covered, but because I didn't I'm being left to die.” At the same time Stuff linked to coverage by Tim Fairbrother of Rival Wealth discussing which type of medical insurance would be best. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/81385630/what-type-of-medical-insurance-works-for-you-will-depend-on-your-circumstances

Each story is a tragedy. Also, the insurance industry could hardly hope for better promotional coverage. I draw your attention to what is implicit the first article and explicit in the second: that an unfunded drug would have helped, and that insurance would have funded this. In stories like these, it seems, the media believe in insurance. At other times, it appears that they ignore the vast volume of claims paid and believe that insurers are solely focused on denying the payment of claims. Is the glass actually half full?


nib views on financial advice, and more daily news

nib has said that members that receive financial advice are better off. In addition, nib CEO Rob Hennin noted that half of nib’s members join via financial advisers. Hennin credited nib’s view by highlighting the findings from an internal study which found that members with advisers have more financial certainty and more health benefits. Hennin used the findings of nib’s internal study and studies commissioned by the FSC to conclude that people who receive financial advice are better off, saying that people with financial advice experience an improvement to their overall health.

“Health insurer nib says it is “absolutely clear” that customers with insurance advisers end up better off, and says advisers have done an “extraordinary” job adapting to the challenges that have come with COVID-19, and multiple lockdowns.

According to nib New Zealand CEO Rob Hennin, approximately half of the insurer’s business currently comes through its adviser channel. He says its internal studies have been clear – customers with advisers have more financial certainty, and also see increased health benefits as a result.

“It’s absolutely clear from our research and the work the Financial Services Council has done that Kiwis who receive financial advice are better off,” Hennin told Insurance Business.

Hennin acknowledged the work advisers have done saying that their response to COVID-19 was extraordinary. Hennin mentioned the increased use of digital tools and other methods to reach and assist clients.

“Advisers have just pivoted and done an extraordinary job throughout COVID-19,” Hennin added.

“They’ve really embraced digital tools and they’ve gone out, consulted with their clients and done whatever they can to ensure they all have access to the care and protection that they need.”” Click here to read more

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Your insurer would not be happy about this...

Finder.com.au, an Australian money site, has done some research on Kiwi attitudes towards insurance. This was about general insurance, but I did think it amazing: 

A nationally representative survey of 2,001 New Zealanders aged 18 and above found that 88% of Kiwis lock their door, leaving 12% who do not.  That’s equivalent to 218,880 households not taking necessary safety precautions and leaving themselves vulnerable to break-ins. 

The second most commonly used home protection is house and contents insurance with 64% of Kiwi households having an insurance policy. Rounding out the top three is having locks on windows (52%). 

Do you see what I see? I think it amazing that insurance is referred to a home protection method in the midst of a list about locking your house and having locks on windows. We, the industry, may be partly to blame for referring to insurance often as wealth protection, equally frequently abbreviated to 'protection'. But the problem I have is that it may be seen as an alternative to physically securing your home. That is an exemplar of 'moral hazard' - that people may take less care when the financial consequences of their actions are reduced. Do we see this in the way people treat their health? Put another way, is there any evidence that we would not?

Of course I don't think that there are lots of people rationally, consciously, deciding to eat too much, not put on sunscreen, and undertake hazardous activities because they have insurance. It is a more subtle kind of pressure that is relieved. It is more like the way everyone drives a little faster when the road is wide and even than when it is narrow and has many corners.