Innovation the way forward in challenging times Southern Cross Health Society CEO tells AGM

Thursday , 10 December 2020 by Susannah Walker

Trialling new healthcare initiatives and outcome-based care were key for Southern Cross Health Society in the year ahead, CEO Nick Astwick announced at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting in Auckland yesterday afternoon.

There was a sense of achievement after a year of delivering for members and it was time to build on that momentum with even more innovations, Astwick said.

“There is no question the Society must continue to innovate. We want to challenge the way health services are provided to deliver better value and healthcare to members.

“This is the direction in which we need to go to ensure sustainability of the private health sector and to deliver the best value outcomes for our members.”AGM 200x400

The Society is part of the Southern Cross group, comprised of independent health and insurance-related businesses that share a not-for-profit ethos.

Chairman Greg Gent told the meeting the last financial year had been a challenging one for the Society but it was fortunate to be in a position to come through it strongly.

The impact of COVID-19 saw the Society receive more in premiums for the financial year than anticipated and pay out less in claims than expected.

The pandemic also resulted in costs associated with the necessary mobilisation of the Society’s workforce, and at the same time, a market-leading decision to give back $50 million to members in the form of premium credits, said Gent.

“Amid all of this, the Health Society group reported a surplus of $32.4 million, and for every dollar received in premiums, we paid out an average of 85 cents in claims. These results are testament to the Society’s strong foundations and successful navigation of an extraordinary period.”

Membership had grown for the fourth consecutive year to reach more than 879,198.

Astwick said the Society was actively working with healthcare providers to find new ways to deliver quality outcomes for members, while keeping premiums affordable.

“We're considering exploring a number of options where we think enhancements are possible. What’s important is treatment when you need it quickly, with the best possible health outcome.”

In November, the Society launched Cancer Cover Plus to give members more choices about chemotherapy treatment, including increased access to cancer drugs not subsidised by Pharmac.

Last month the Society also partnered with ProCare to launch CareHQ, a virtual GP service, in response to demand for more alternatives to in-person general practice consultations.

CareHQ offers video GP consultations seven days a week for patients who need urgent advice when their own GP is not available or after hours.


  • For every dollar paid in premiums, the Society returned 85 cents in claims to members.
  • A surplus of $32.4 million.
  • $50 million returned to members as premium rebates due to COVID-19.
  • Membership increased to 879,198, up 8,133 on the previous year.
  • The Society comprised 62 per cent of New Zealand’s health insurance market but paid 72 per cent of all claims.
  • $443.1 million in net tangible assets, representing approximately five months of claims.
  • Standard and Poor’s A+ credit rating retained for 18th consecutive year.