Latest COVID-19 Updates

We’ve put together some important information for all our members on COVID-19

LATEST UPDATE

Covid-19 Update. We’re in this together

Dear Member

This is a tough time in so many ways for so many people. Tough will mean different things to different people. It might be financial hardship, or struggling with wellbeing during the lockdown. It’s important to maintain your health insurance cover as it preserves your future access to medical and surgical treatment. UniMed is here to support you. We can get through this together.

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View previous updates

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve tried to answer the most commonly asked questions but if you have another query, please let us know by contacting us on 0800 600 666 or emailing members@unimed.co.nz.

If you live alone, are in vulnerable circumstances or just need some help with managing your health insurance, now is a good time for you to appoint a family member or friend as an ‘authorised person’ on your policy.

An authorised person can contact UniMed on your behalf to discuss your policy. To add (or change) an authorised person, please email us at members@unimed.co.nz or send an enquiry. Please include your member number, the authorised person’s name, email address and a contact phone number for them.

View all Claims Premium credit New well-being updates Financial hardship options Support for businesses Keeping in touch

Claims

Am I covered for COVID-19?

UniMed does not exclude coronavirus. However, as this is an acute condition, it is treated through the public health system. This means that claims arising from private medical or hospital treatment are unlikely.

If you require ongoing treatment for coronavirus (or for medical conditions arising from coronavirus) and this is managed by a private health provider, then you may be covered (depending on the terms of your UniMed policy).

Does the Government cover COVID – 19?

Yes. The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health issue. Please refer to the Ministry of Health website www.health.govt.nz to find out if you are eligible for care under the New Zealand public health system and for the services that are covered. You can also contact the Ministry of Health, Healthline on 0800 611 116 or speak with your usual GP.

What happens if my treatment is delayed due to COVID – 19?

As restrictions are lifted, access to private treatment is returning to pre-COVID-19 levels. However, some treatments have been delayed during these restrictions. You should stay in touch with your medical provider, who will advise you when your treatment can be rescheduled.

You only need to contact us if your re-scheduled surgical or specialist treatment is more than 6 months after the date your prior approval was issued. You should also contact us if the estimated fee for this treatment has changed.

Does UniMed cover consultations by video or phone calls?

Yes, but as restrictions are lifted, more consults will be “in person” with appropriate precautions.

During COVID – 19 some medical practitioners were consulting with patients by video (e.g. Zoom, Skype) or phone. Provided that these consultations are safe and appropriate for your medical condition, they will be covered, up to the limits specified in your policy.

We are temporarily extending our benefits to cover consultations by video or phone call so that our members can access treatment while restrictions are in place and to support the health and safety of New Zealand Medical Professionals.

How do I put in a claim?

As you normally do, but you might like to try our online claims service, if you don’t already. It’s easy and faster than posting your claim.

Our teams continue to operate at full capacity. We’re still receiving and processing medical claims and prior approval requests from members for future surgery and medical procedures.

If you’re submitting your claims online, there’s a free scanner that might help you attach claims documents. CamScanner is a free app on Android and Apple that easily converts your photos to pdfs. https://www.camscanner.com/user/download. Or you can download it from the UniMed website https://www.unimed.co.nz/contact-us/make-a-claim/.

At present, we aim to complete claims refunds within three business days after receiving them. However, we often process claims well within this timeframe so please make sure you send them through and contact us if you have any questions.

Claims submitted online will be refunded faster than posted claims. Online processing avoids the time it takes to post your claim and for us to open it and send your refund. So, please try to submit your claims online.

What is happening with claims after lockdown?

Now that the alert levels have reduced, it won’t be long until elective surgery and other medical procedures and consultations are fully underway again. This means the recent slowing of claims will be very short-lived; in fact they are already starting to increase as members are notified of rescheduled dates for their procedures. A small number of treatments may, however, never eventuate. This is why we are able to give members and businesses a premium credit.

Premium credit

What is the premium credit?

The premium credit is a one-off credit applied against premiums paid by members and businesses.

Why are you doing this?

During the lockdown we have noticed that claims have been lower than normal. Most treatments have been delayed, some were cancelled, while more urgent treatments continued in some instances. This is a unique situation that requires a very specific response.

We are returning surplus funds from cancelled claims through a premium credit, additional benefits and other targeted assistance. We have introduced two new wellbeing benefits providing reimbursements for flu vaccinations and professional mental health services. We are delighted to see that members are already taking up these new benefits. The premium credit is the next step in our support for members and businesses.

Who will it apply to?

It will apply to all policies in place as at 1 April 2020. Eligible policies will include those that are paid by individuals and businesses.

The premium credit will not apply to policies that are cancelled or suspended. If you are in this situation please contact us to discuss your options to re-start your membership.

What if my employer pays my premium?

They will receive the premium credit.

What if my employer pays some of my premium and I pay the rest?

You both receive the premium credit. Provided that we have separate billing details for each of you, the premium credit will be applied to both.

The premium credit will be applied against the premiums paid by businesses and by staff.

I am a UniMed member but my spouse/partner pays the premium – will I get the premium credit?

The premium credit is applied against the bill so whoever pays the bill receives the benefit of the premium credit.

What if I have just joined UniMed?

The premium credit applies to policies that were in place as at 1 April 2020. If you joined after this date then the premium credit will not apply to your policy. Also, you will only receive the premium credit if you pay the premiums for your policy.

What if I have just cancelled my policy?

In general, the premium credit does not apply to policies that are cancelled. However, it does depend on when your policy was cancelled and when your next bill is due.

If you joined before 1 April 2020 and cancelled your membership before 1 May 2020, then the premium credit will not apply to you. However, if you reinstate your policy, you may qualify for the premium credit, so please call us to discuss this.

If you joined before 1 April 2020 and cancelled your membership on or after 1 May 2020, then the premium credit will have been applied to your policy.

If you can, it makes sense to keep your membership going. This will ensure that you receive the full benefit of the premium credit and continue to be covered.

Can I receive the premium credit paid out in cash?

No. The premium credit will not be paid out in cash. It can only be applied against your bill.

What if I have changed my cover – how will the premium credit apply?

The credit will apply to the premium you were paying on 1 May 2020. We had to select a date to calculate the premium credit and, after careful consideration, we chose 1 May 2020 because it fairly reflects the contributions made by members during the lock-down period.

If you have recently changed plans and are unsure about which premium the credit will apply to, please check the date your new cover started. You can find this on your membership certificate or on the My UniMed section of our web-site (provided you are registered for this service).

How much will my premium reduce by?

Each eligible policy will enjoy a two week premium holiday based on premiums as at 1 May 2020. We will actually be paying back more than we expect to save from members’ permanently cancelled treatments during lockdown.

The premium credit will provide some valuable short-term relief for our members during these difficult times and we are really pleased to be doing this.

When will the premium credit apply?

Members pay their premiums in a variety of ways so the timing of the credit will vary.

Those with simple billing arrangements can expect to see the premium credit applied to their account from the first few weeks of June 2020. This includes members paying by direct debit, recurring credit card and invoice. Please be aware that you may not receive the premium credit in June as it will apply from your next billing date, and this may occur after June 2020. For example, if you pay your premium annually and your next renewal is February 2021, your credit will appear on the next renewal invoice February.

For those paying by wage deduction through their employer, it is a bit more complex. Many businesses are still focusing on re-starting after lockdown so making temporary changes to wage deductions may take longer. We are keeping employers up to date and will be doing what we can to support them in making these changes as soon as they can. Some schemes have more complex billing arrangements than others, so these may take a bit longer.

Please be patient and rest assured that we are working hard to deliver the benefits of the premium credit to you as soon as we can.

How will this affect my payments?

It depends on how you pay.

If you have a direct bank payment set up, you don’t need to do anything. We will make the necessary changes to your next deduction. If you pay by invoice, the premium credit will be shown on your next bill from mid-late June 2020.

If your premium is deducted from your salary/wages, you don’t need to do anything. We will contact your payroll office so they can make the necessary adjustment. You should see this reflected in your usual payslips when the premium credit has been applied.

Please be patient as it may take a little time for the premium credit to be applied.

Why is it 2 weeks premium and not some other amount?

During the lockdown claims have been lower than normal. Most treatments have been delayed, some were cancelled, while more urgent treatments continued in some instances.

The 2-week premium credit takes into account the surplus funds resulting from permanently cancelled claims during the lockdown period. In fact, we will actually be paying back more than we expect to save from members’ permanently cancelled treatments during lockdown.

Now that the alert levels have reduced, it won’t be long until elective surgery and other medical procedures and consultations are fully underway again. This means the recent slowing of claims will be very short-lived; in fact they are already starting to increase as members are notified of rescheduled dates for their procedures. A small number of treatments may, however, never eventuate. This is why we are able to give members and businesses a premium credit.

What if claims continue to be lower than normal?

It is a unique situation, so it may take some time for claims to return to normal. We expect that it will be well into 2021 before the backlog of treatments is fully cleared. This means claims could actually increase over the next 12 months.

We will be monitoring the situation closely and if permanently cancelled treatments are higher than expected, we will revisit premium credits and other potential responses.

I would like to donate the premium credit to charity – can I do this?

Yes. However, you will need to arrange this yourself. Once you receive the premium credit you will know how much this is and can then make arrangements to donate this to charity.

Please note. UniMed is not able to donate the premium credit to charity on your behalf.

Why doesn’t the premium credit take into consideration how many years I have been a member?

The premium credit takes into account the surplus funds resulting from cancelled claims during the lockdown period. It is a very specific response to a unique situation.

These claims’ savings are not determined by how many years members have been with UniMed, but rather who was a contributing member during the lockdown.

Why are premiums increasing for some members now?

The short-term reduction in claims (due to COVID – 19) is being addressed directly through our support package for members. This includes new benefits, targeted assistance and the premium credit.
Freezing premium increases would only benefit those members who have premium increases due in the coming months. It benefits some members and not others. The premium credit benefits all those paying premiums. This is a fairer approach.
The current situation is temporary. Once it is over, we expect to see members claiming as they did before. This means that premiums need to reflect the rising cost of medical and surgical treatment and our wider health needs as we age.

New well-being updates

What new well-being benefits has UniMed introduced?

UniMed has temporarily introduced two new well-being benefits that members can claim between 1 April and 30 September 2020. One covers flu vaccinations and the other covers consultations for professional mental health support related to the personal impact of COVID – 19.

Why now?

The well-being of our members is our top priority. During this difficult time, it is particularly important that members maintain their physical and mental health. These benefits provide additional support during this pandemic.

Who will these benefits apply to?

These benefits are being applied to all current UniMed members. They apply across all policies.

How does the flu vaccination benefit work?

It provides cover for up to $30 per person for flu vaccinations that are not funded by the Government or paid for by your employer.

What cover is available for mental health?

Two new benefits have been introduced to help our members deal with the personal consequences of COVID – 19.

The first benefit covers consultations by psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists. This provides a refund of 50% of actual costs up to $120 per visit. A maximum of three visits applies. This benefit applies to each person on your policy.

The second benefit covers consultations by counsellors. This provides a refund of 50% of actual costs up to $60 per visit. A maximum of three visits applies. This benefit applies to each person on your policy.

Who can I speak with?

To be eligible for claimable services, the provider must be registered under either:

  • The New Zealand Psychologists Board, or the Psychotherapists Board of Aotearoa New Zealand; or
  • The NZ Christian Counsellors Association (NZCCA), NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC), or Drug and Alcohol Practitioners’ Association of Aotearoa-NZ (DAPAANZ).

Different benefit limits apply to each category of provider.

Financial hardship options

What are my options?

If you are facing financial hardship, then, in many cases, you may be able to reduce your premium by reducing your cover or adding an excess.

Can I reduce my premiums?

Yes. In most cases you can by either removing cover, changing to an alternative plan or adding an excess. If you reduce your premium, this means your cover will be reduced so you need to consider this before taking action.

What are you doing to make it easier?

We have relaxed the rules that usually apply when reducing your cover and then increasing it again in the future. This means if you decide to reduce your cover temporarily, we have made it easier for you to return to your original situation.

We are also introducing a premium credit and new well-being benefits. This means members will get some short-term premium relief and access to two new well-being benefits without paying extra premiums for this.

What if I have lost my job?

We appreciate that this can be a very worrying time, impacting your physical and mental health. That’s why we have added a new well-being benefit to all of our policies that provides valuable cover for professional mental health services. This may help you to get support during this difficult time.

Our premium credit will also provide some short-term premium relief.

Please talk to us about your options as we have premium relief options that may work for you. There may also be ways to reduce your premium by reducing your cover. We are here to help, so please talk to us about the range of options available.

Support for businesses

What is UniMed doing to support businesses?

We understand that some businesses are under significant financial pressure. We have been closely monitoring the situation and considering the best ways that we can support our business clients.

We have taken some significant steps to support you and your staff. We are introducing a premium credit to provide valuable short-term premium relief. We have also added two new well-being benefits to all of our policies that will provide added support for your staff’s physical and mental well-being.

We understand that your situation may be challenging and evolving. Please keep in contact with your Account Manager, Broker or Financial Adviser. We are here to help.

How will the premium credit work?

The premium credit is applied to businesses who pay premiums on behalf of their staff. It also applies to staff who pay premiums directly to UniMed.

It is based on two weeks premium calculated at 1 May 2020 (for policies in place on 1 April 2020) and will be applied as a one-off credit against the policy. It will provide some valuable short-term premium relief.

I pay some of the premium and my staff pay the rest, who gets the premium credit?

You both do. Provided that we have separate billing details for each of you, the premium credit will be applied to eligible policies for both.

It is based on two weeks premium as at 1 May 2020 (for policies in place at 1 April 2020) and will be applied against the premiums paid by businesses and staff.

How will the premium credit work if my staff pay through salary deduction?

The premium credit will need to be applied against the usual salary deductions made for UniMed premiums.

Depending on the frequency of salary payments (weekly, fortnightly or monthly), the premium credit will have different effects on wage deductions. However, as the premium credit equates to two weeks premium it should be fairly straightforward to apply it to your payroll.

How will the well-being benefits help my staff?

We understand the pressures faced by businesses and their staff. It is important that staff maintain their physical and mental health during this difficult time. The well-being benefits provide valuable support through cover for flu vaccinations and access to professional mental health services.

I am under financial pressure – what should I do?

Please talk to your Account Manager, Insurance Broker or Financial Adviser who can discuss the options that may be available to support you.

Keeping in touch

What is the best way to contact you?

You can contact us in the usual way. We would encourage you to register for My UniMed My UniMed if you have not done so already.

You can contact our team directly;

Can I speak with someone?

Yes. Our teams are here to help you. UniMed is fully operational and we are here to take your calls.

Call us on 0800 600 666 (Mon – Fri, 8.30 am – 5 pm)

I’ve sent something in the post, how long will it take for you to receive it?

As NZ Post resumes its normal delivery service, we will open and process your mail as we did before lockdown.

Should you need to submit a claim, please follow the online claims process. You can also contact the Claims Team on claims@unimed.co.nz

How are you keeping me up to date?

We understand the importance of keeping you well informed. That is why we are issuing regular newsletters as the situation develops.  Please look out for these and check the UniMed website for any further details.

Members who have provided an email address will receive our updates faster than those who receive them by post.

Are you living alone or in vulnerable circumstances?

If you live alone, are in vulnerable circumstances or just need some help with managing your health insurance, now is a good time for you to appoint a family member or friend as an ‘authorised person’ on your policy.

An authorised person can contact UniMed on your behalf to discuss your policy.

To add (or change) an authorised person, please email us at members@unimed.co.nz or send an enquiry . Please include your member number, the authorised person’s name, email address and a contact phone number for them.

How do I access information on helping to keep safe?

A comprehensive list of services and information for keeping safe, put together by the Ministry of Health is available at https://covid19.govt.nz/ to help improve Kiwis’ mental health.

How do I access more information about mental health?

The Government is making further support available for Kiwis wanting to look after their mental wellbeing as a result of change and uncertainty from COVID-19. The three initiatives are: the Mentemia app developed by All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan; a health journal app called Melon; and an e-therapy programme called Staying on Track.

For further information, check out the following links.

mentemia.com/
melonhealth.com/covid-19
https://www.justathought.co.nz/

Please keep an eye on our website for other updates and additional information.

Previous updates

LATEST UPDATE

Covid-19 Update – 2 April 2020

We hope you’re managing with the COVID-19 lockdown and have good preventative measures in place to protect your health and wellbeing. UniMed is here for you. Keep talking to us and let us know anything that’s worrying you. By way…

Read More
View previous updates

LATEST UPDATE

Covid-19 Update – 24 March 2020

We want to keep you informed about COVID-19, and our response. Our priority is our Members’ health, and the health of our UniMed team. Plan coverage UniMed’s plans do not have any general exclusions for COVID-19. If a Member meets…

Read More
View previous updates