Southern Cross offers iwi elders a special health insurance plan

Health insurer Southern Cross is working with Waikato-Tainui to offer each of iwi’s 14,000 kamatua (elders) up to $1,250 a year in daily coverage.

Monday, May 2, 2022 10:43 am

The iwi currently offers annual medical grants to registered members aged 60 and over. But for the first time, Kauratua can now use that money to pay for a basic Southern Cross health policy. At this point, it does not cover mental health issues or surgery.

Southern Cross chief sales and marketing officer Kerry Boielle says the program is a first for the insurer. Kaumatua who take advantage of the offer can access services such as family doctor visits, dental care, optometry, physical therapy and chiropractic care up to a cap of $1250.

“It represents incredible value that you wouldn’t get anywhere else in New Zealand because we’re members only and a not-for-profit organization,” says Boielle.

For some in the community, the barriers to accessing day-to-day care are significant. “If you remove those barriers, that can only be a good thing. These barriers are very real to many people. We feel truly privileged to be able to make a positive contribution by working with Waikato-Tainui. It’s a pretty cool opportunity.”

Waikato-Tainui General Manager Heritage and Identity, Glenda Taituha, says that with 80,000 tribal members, the iwi has always prioritized investing in its people, especially when it comes to their health.

“We want to protect our precious kamatua and help them stay with their tamariki and mokopuna longer. Our kamatua guide us and without them we would be lost, so we have big ambitions to nurture and protect them by improving access to preventive healthcare,” says Taituha.

“We’re always looking for ways to make an impactful investment for our tribe members, and this partnership with Southern Cross will help us ensure they can lead healthier lives.”

Nick Astwick, Southern Cross Chief Executive, said the opportunity to partner with Waikato-Tainui was a great honor and a significant step forward in supporting the health insurer’s drive to improve health outcomes across the country, including those in vulnerable communities.

“As New Zealand’s largest health insurer, we are deeply committed to working with Māori to bring about change. In these uncertain times, supporting and protecting health and well-being has never been more important, and we are wholeheartedly committed to doing so,” he says.

Southern Cross said it commissioned a survey from Kantar which found that 78% of Māori are concerned about access to good and affordable health care. Only 50% are satisfied with the standard of health (10% lower than the general population).

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