nib New Zealand has announced an expansion of its First Choice network, to include additional medical treatments for different specialties, effective 2 July 2019.
First Choice network was initially created after nib identified significant variation in the cost of surgical procedures across the country and it has since delivered more than $1 million in claims savings in the first year of operation.
nib Group Executive Benefits and Provider Relations, Justin Vaughan, said the network was designed to help tackle these surgical cost differences and in turn, ensure members did not have any unexpected costs.
“We think it’s absurd that having a knee replacement in Auckland costs 23 percent more than the national average but if you have the same surgery in Christchurch you’ll pay 10 percent less,” Vaughan said.
“There’s no clear reason or evidence to support these higher fees or that there’s better quality healthcare,” he added.
First Choice offers nib members a network of medical professionals that agree to provide services and treatment within a determined price range.
The insurer confirmed currently 90 percent of nib members visit a First Choice network provider for treatment with over 4,500 payments made for surgeries each month.
“We know our members don’t like when they have to pay an out-of-pocket cost for medical treatment. By visiting a First Choice provider, it means they don’t have to, with 100% of their approved costs covered,” Vaughan said.
“Importantly, members can still choose to see an out-of-network doctor, however, they’ll have to contribute towards the additional costs they charge,” he said.
“We’re aiming to have 90 percent of New Zealand medical professionals in network to help us continue to better manage claims costs and keep premiums affordable for our members.”