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Sovereign's medical changes welcomed

Sovereign’s changes to its legacy medical insurance products breaks ground. Strategy Financial director Graeme Lindsay says.

Friday, December 16th 2016, 7:43AM 3 Comments

by Graeme Lindsay

Graeme Lindsay

Sovereign has announced some changes to its Private Health medical product.  Included are:

  • A change in the Surgical Hospitalisation benefit from $300,000 per person per annum to unlimited.  Whilst this looks to be a big change, in practice, it is unlikely to apply to many policyholders.  For those poor souls who do get to $300,000 in a year, the change will be welcome.  It would be interesting to learn from Sovereign, (and the other insurers), how many policyholders ever exceed the old $300,000 limit in a year.
  • Up to $5,000 to cover breast symmetry surgery following a mastectomy.
  • Outpatient physio and medications covered under the unlimited surgical benefit for 6 months after surgery (3 months for Majorcare 2003).
  • Dental Support before certain chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
  • Some treatments covered worldwide.
  • Increased Minor surgery cover.
  • Increased Home Nursing benefit after surgery.
  • These changes are all good for policyholders, but are hardly major.

The major change however, and one for which Sovereign is to be applauded, is the extending of cover for chemotherapy treatments approved by Medsafe but not funded by Pharmac, to its legacy products Absolute Health and Majorcare 2003.  (Note, that Majorcare issued prior to November 2003 didn’t exclude non-Pharmac treatments.)

It is impressive too, that the level of cover for these treatments is realistic rather than the token level ($10,000) introduced by Southern Cross recently.

Sovereign is also to be recognised for the fact that whilst their policy wording allows them to retrospectively change the terms of their medical products, they have never done so to restrict or remove a cover in place.  This change is a positive change for existing policyholders.

Graeme Lindsay runs Strategy Financial which provides research to advisers on insurance products. The comments in "Strategy Thoughts" outlines his view on recent product and policy changes.

Tags: health insurance Sovereign

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Comments from our readers

On 15 December 2016 at 2:53 pm Donald said:
I agree with Graeme that the retrospective change to Majorcare and Absolute Health can be welcomed. However it still only covers Chemotherapy treatments so still doesn't compare well to the top rated major medical providers.I do challenge the change of terms etc notation where stated "they have never done so to restrict or remove cover in place". I recall only too well when Sovereign reduced within Majorcare the 6 month pre and post surgery specialist cover to 3 months; so so much for NEVER. Fortunately they recognized their misjudgement and reinstated the 6 month term after adviser reaction. I'll take guaranteed wording anytime for the benefit of my clients.
On 15 December 2016 at 5:09 pm Chatterbox said:
Graeme must have amnesia or not seen the evidence of retrospective changes made to policy terms, or, the evidence which has been gathered was undertaken with new versions in a concealed manner while retaining the same product and branding names and labels. Which by the way you are well aware of. Support for that practice from a person who generates income from the industry is bias and full of conflicts.
On 16 December 2016 at 11:23 am Tash said:
Good to see Sovereign catching up in some areas to the likes of Partners Life and AIA but as usual the devil is in the detail!
Interesting to note that the unlimited surgical benefit does not seem to apply to Cancer surgery and treatments (limited to $300,000).
Also interesting that treatments covered world wide, other than Australia, are limited to 75% of the NZ reasonable charge so the unlimited surgery benefit won't apply.
Unfortunate that the new dental support before some chemotherapy is only $1,500 and the breast symmetry treatment only $5,000.

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