Southern Cross delivers top value and growing membership

Friday , 15 September 2017 by Janine Kendall

Southern Cross Health Society has today released its annual financial results, showing solid growth in membership as it continues to deliver excellent value for money.

New Zealand’s largest health insurer, Southern Cross Health Society now has more than 853,000 members – an increase of more than 30,000 members (4%) on last year.

Board Chair, Greg Gent, says it’s a strong increase.

“We’re a member-driven organisation and exist to work in members’ best interests, so it’s pleasing to have more Kiwis entrusting us with their health insurance needs.”

The annual figures show Southern Cross Health Society represents 62% of the health insurance market, up a per cent on last year, but pays a significant 73% of the country’s health insurance claims.

Mr Gent says over the past year, the insurer has paid out 90 cents in claims for every dollar received in premiums, representing a market-leading rate of return and outstanding value for money.

“This year we paid out $830 million across 3.2 million claims, including cover for more than 240,000 surgical procedures and 750,000 GP visits.”

As a Friendly Society*, Southern Cross Health Society aims to make a modest surplus each year. For 2016/17, that figure came in at $6.2 million. Any surplus is retained for the benefit of members, funding additional benefits, moderating future premium increases or maintaining prudent levels of financial reserves. The Society’s reserves, which are held as a buffer in the event of adverse circumstances or severe claims spikes, stood at $441.3 million at 30 June 2017.

“This will give members confidence in the Society’s performance and ability to continue delivering value and paying claims.”

The Society also retained its A+ financial rating for the 15th consecutive year.

Greg Gent says the Society has continued investing in digital technology over the past 12 months, making it faster and easier for members to manage their health insurance where and when they choose.

“More than 80 per cent of the claims we receive are now submitted electronically and close to 200,000 members are registered to use My Southern Cross online,” Gent says. “A growing number of members are also now utilising our mobile app.”

Mr Gent says these digital tools are not only cost-effective, but help make the claiming process as easy as possible, supporting members to make the best use of their policies.

In other growth areas, the number of Affiliated Providers contracted with the Society to provide healthcare services at agreed prices has risen from more than 1300 last year to around 1850 across 20 specialities.

The Affiliated Provider programme is one of the mechanisms by which the Society mitigates rising medical costs, and resulted in savings of around $35 million for the 2016/17 year. The programme also makes claiming simpler and easier for members.

The number of Easy-claim providers has also climbed by more than 35% on last year, to 2171.

Easy-claim eliminates the need to claim back for services from the likes of GPs, physiotherapists and pharmacies. In 2016/17, Easy-claim facilitated more than 300,000 point-of-purchase transactions.

Now in his third year as Southern Cross Health Society Board Chair, Greg Gent says the past year has been an extremely positive one.

"We’ve seen robust growth across a number of significant areas and have continued to enhance the way members can interact with us via digital technology,” he says. “We’ve also welcomed a new CEO in Nick Astwick, who brings a fresh perspective and new set of skills. All-in-all we’ve finished the year in good stead and are well positioned to take on the next 12 months.”


* Southern Cross Health Society is registered under the Friendly Societies & Credit Unions Act 1982 and operates in the interests of its members.

Snapshot figures – FY17

  • Membership rose by 4% from 820,469 to 853,160
  • For every dollar of premium received, 90 cents was paid out to members
  • The Society received a premium income of $923 million, up by 6% from last year, and paid claims of $830 million, up by almost 11% on last year.
  • The Society made a surplus of $6.2 million
  • Southern Cross Health Society members make up 62% of all New Zealanders with health insurance
  • Southern Cross Health Society funds 73% of the country’s health insurance claims
  • The Society has retained its A+ financial strength rating for the 15th year running and has $441 million in reserves.

In 2016/17, the Society covered claims for:

  • More than 240,000 surgical procedures
  • More than 420,000 specialist consultations
  • More than 650,000 prescriptions
  • More than 750,000 GP visits

Additional information:

2017 Annual Report Summary
2017 Financial Statements