Pro Risk

How medical insurance can support worker productivity

In July 2023, it was reported in the media that many patients were waiting up to a year for basic medical procedures at Hawke’s Bay Hospital when the target wait is six weeks. These procedures included ultrasound and CT scans, MRI’s and steroid injections.

The wait to get a routine examination for these patients was one of the factors (along with workforce shortages, unsuitable spaces and ageing equipment) that led to the hospital’s radiology department having its accreditation suspended.

On top of this are the wait times for surgery. In January 2022 there were 2,487 people across the country left hanging on a surgical wait list for more than a year. By January 2023, that number increased to 6,361 people.

The impact of unwell staff on productivity If you have staff needing medical care, it can have a major impact on their ability to work effectively, especially if they are in pain or incapacitated. Ultimately this can roll on to your workplace productivity. One of the things that you can do to support your people’s wellbeing and get them back to work quicker is to provide them with private medical insurance.

Not only does medical insurance encourage your employees to seek medical treatment earlier, it means that because they can be seen privately they are likely to be diagnosed and treated much quicker. This is not only good for their physical health but their mental wellbeing.

Research shows that employers with workplace health programmes that improve employee health by reducing, preventing or controlling diseases can realise potential cost savings. This can be measured against factors such as –

■ Absenteeism among employees due to illness or injury.

■ Reduced overtime to cover absent employees.

■ Costs to train replacement employees.

Healthier employees contribute to a safer work environment

Staff who are in general good health also contribute to a safer workplace as they are more likely to have improved physical, mental, and emotional health which enhances stamina, concentration, and focus. Mental wellbeing in particular is a concern when it comes to a safe working environment, with many reports showing a decline in Kiwi’s mental health. Employers not only have an ethical responsibility when it comes to mental health, they also have obligations to look after the physical and mental health and wellbeing of their staff under the 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act. This of course requires workplaces to protect against physical harm (including fatigue) as well as psychological harm. Many medical insurers offer benefits to support mental wellbeing under their policies which help employers to ensure that their people have access to the right support.

Keep your existing people healthy and attract new staff

It is no surprise that organisations that offer medical insurance are more highly regarded by prospective employees
– especially if medical benefits can be extended to their spouse or family members. Recruitment company Madison recently highlighted health and wellbeing support as the number two benefit that ‘people actually care about.’ Health insurance was specifically mentioned as ‘one of the best things you can offer.’ This helps explain why the growth in membership at New Zealand’s largest health insurer, Southern Cross, is the highest it has been in 30-years – with 20,000 new members joining in the last year alone. The organisation has said that some of this growth was coming from businesses and organisations wanting to attract and retain people. There is no better time to consider a medical insurance plan for your people than now. The ICIB Brokerweb team is highly experienced in finding the right plan for your organisation. You can drop our Life and Health team a line on, call us on 06 870 6567 or visit to find out more.