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Southern Cross launches health management account

By Rob Hosking

Wednesday 13th July 2005

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Southern Cross Healthcare has launched a first for New Zealand - a 'health management account'.

The account, Activa, is aimed at addressing the $2 billion of day to day health related spending carried out by New Zealanders every year, says Southern Cross's group chief executive Ian McPherson.

Activa is a complement to health insurance and the public health system, he says.

"What we are offering is a health management account to get New Zealanders greater value for money and more control over that $2 billion."

Health management accounts are used overseas but this is a first for New Zealand, says McPherson.

The main features are:

  • A card providing access to an account for day-to-day health spending and saving, with a card accessed interest bearing account. The account and related banking services are provided by ASB Bank.
  • The option of a health insurance plan designed to provide a safety net for high cost surgical treatment.
  • Reduced premiums for adults on the Activa insurance plan who are non-smokers and who exercise regularly. Eligibility for this can be confirmed every two years via health checks.
  • A "partner" network - of health providers, gymnasiums, sporting goods stores, and so forth, offering discounts and other benefits.

Activa chief operating officer Louise Kerridge says the growth in health management accounts mirrors consumer demand for options that acknowledge healthy lifestyles and recognise the personal investment people make in their health.

"Our research showed that individuals older than 30, on average spend around $1,500 on their health each year and families spend around $2,200. More than 70% of that money goes on everyday costs, like GP or dentist visits, prescriptions, products from pharmacies or health food stores or gym memberships.

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