Southern Cross Health Insurance paid out nearly $1 billion in claims in the year to June – and New Zealanders’ hips and knees were responsible for the biggest part of the bill.
Health insurance coverage has been increasing in recent years, from 1.35 million lives covered in December 2016 to 1.41 million in December 2019.
Southern Cross said it funded more than 1800 knee replacement surgeries in its most recent financial year, at a cost of $47.9 million and more than 1900 hip replacement surgeries, worth a combined $45m.
Hip replacements were the most expensive category of claim for both genders but colonoscopies ranked second for men and knee replacements second for women.
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Women also claimed $21.8m for hysterectomies and $14.1m for endometriosis treatment while men claimed $12.5m for spinal fusion surgery and $18.8m for skin lesion excisions.
Children claimed a combined $5.2m for surgical removal of teeth and $4.8m for tonsillectomies.
Southern Cross Health Insurance chief medical officer Stephen Child said it showed insurance playing a role in helping New Zealanders access the treatment they required.
“While the public health system does a fantastic job looking after acute urgent medical issues, health insurance gives Kiwis access to elective surgical procedures and specialist consultations when they need it and choice about where they receive it,” he said.
“Health insurance allows people swift access to quality treatment when it’s most needed,” he said. “Southern Cross Health Insurance funds close to half a million specialist consultations and a quarter of a million surgical procedures in the past year which helps to reduce the burden on the public health system.”
Southern Cross Health Insurance has more than 879,000 members.