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Southern Cross Health Society membership reaches 30 year high

Tuesday , 13 December 2022 by Sherryl Arneil

Southern Cross Health Society (Society) reported significant membership growth at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) last week.

The Society welcomed 20,000 net new members in FY22, bringing the membership to 908,000. This is its seventh straight year of growth and represents the largest membership in 30 years.

Southern Cross Health Society CEO Nick Astwick told the meeting this growth shows the value New Zealanders place on their health, especially through uncertain times.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has given New Zealanders a new appreciation for accessing the healthcare they need when they need it. We’re seeing an increase in the number of people who consider health insurance an important factor in keeping well,” he said.

Chair Murray Jordan told attending members that the Society is working to keep premium increases as low as possible for its members by using some of the organisation’s larger than expected reported surplus.

“Financial, geo-political and social conditions fluctuate on a daily basis, which means we’re all grappling with constant change. While it may seem counter-intuitive, due to this uncertainty, the Society ended the 2022 financial year with a surplus result of $90 million. This was higher than expected due to a lower claims volume,” he said.

The Society now expects claim numbers to return to pre-Covid levels and it also expects the cost of those claims to rise with inflationary pressures.

“Ordinarily a high rate of inflation would mean we’d need to adjust premiums upward at a sharper rate than we have in the past. However, we are using some of the surplus to keep premium increases as low as possible in the 2023 financial year,” Jordan said.

Recognising that households are facing increasing cost of living pressures, Astwick said Southern Cross has actively contacted members to ensure they have a health insurance plan that fits with their current financial circumstances.

“As New Zealand’s largest health insurer, we know the role affordable health insurance plays in empowering New Zealanders to live better, healthier lives.

“Our unique position as a not-for-profit Friendly Society has allowed us to be with our members more than ever this year, as we up our efforts to provide access to the support and services they value, even during a time when the cost of living affects us all.”

Resolutions voted on by members at the AGM included Julia Raue’s re-election as a Director of Southern Cross Medical Care Society, which passed. Dwayne Crombie was elected as a Director, while David Bridgman was appointed as a Trustee of Southern Cross Medical Care Society. Members also considered and passed a resolution to increase the total pool for Directors’ remuneration; and considered and passed a special resolution to adopt Amended Rules (Rules) of the Southern Cross Medical Care Society.

The three changes to the Rules are:

  • Amending Rule 4 to reflect the fact that the Society’s Registered Office is now located at 155 Fanshawe Street, Auckland.
  • Amending Rule 12.2 by moving the date by which the Society’s Annual Report and Financial Statements are required to be made available to members from 15 September to 30 September each year.
  • Due to the change to Rule 12.2 above, amending Rule 13.16 to extend the final date for submission for members’ proposals from 1 October to 15 October to ensure members had a two-week period between the issue of the Financial Statements and the final date for members’ proposals to be submitted.


Snapshot figures – FY22

  • 908,176 members, including 20,394 net new members

o Highest membership in 30 years

o Seventh straight year of growth

  • Southern Cross Health Society Group surplus of $90 million

o $108 million is operating surplus

o $17 million loss on investments

o Five-year average Group surplus of $34.5 million

  • $1.08 billion in claims paid out of $1.35 billion received in premiums
  • $5.03 billion returned in claims over past five years, out of $5.82 billion received in premiums – representing more than 86 per cent of premiums returned to members in claims
  • Standard and Poor’s A+ financial strength rating

The Society AGM was a hybrid meeting, with members attending virtually, as well as in person at the organisation’s head office in Fanshawe Street, Auckland.