Costs vs benefits

Southern Cross Cancer Assist

New Zealand’s largest health insurer, Southern Cross,offers add-on to their normal health insurance called Cancer Assist. This is an optional extra that current policy holders of Southern Cross health insurance can add to their existing cover to insure against the risk of developing a cancer that is best treated using drugs not yet funded by Pharmac. (Pharmac is the NZ government department that decides which medicines and medical devices will be tax-payer funded as part of the NZ health system, which means they have to decide what not to fund too!).

This area has previously been a gap in Southern Cross’s medical cover, but spiking costs for non-Pharmac cancer treatments have prompted the change. For those who select the add-on, Cancer Assist gives members a one-off tax-free payment option ranging from $20,000 to $300,000, paid when they are diagnosed with a qualifying cancer. While this lump sum payment isn’t strictly for non-Pharmac treatment, it can go towards that or meeting any other cost.

Southern Cross representative, Chris Watney, says recent research carried out by the Health Society revealed that cancer is the biggest health concern among its members, with younger people more likely to be concerned about a cancer diagnosis than any other diagnosis. With 23,000 new cases of cancer registered in New Zealand each year that concern seems truly justified.

As Kiwis who have received a cancer diagnosis increasingly access new and costly therapies, the financial implications can be huge. This can require major decisions to be made and often involves people mortgaging or re-mortgaging their homes. The Cancer Assist add-on addresses this and gives people options about what they want to spend money on after a cancer diagnosis. It also offers flexibility, freedom, and choice at a time that people need it most. The add-on could be used for:

  • Additional treatments – paying for additional or alternative treatments that may not be covered by the public system or health insurance. This can include non-Pharmac-approved drugs or new treatment options.
  • Staying on top of bills – helping with household expenses like mortgage payments or rent.
  • Taking time off – taking the pressure off needing to work or reducing your work hours.
  • Childcare and home help – arranging extra help around the home or making sure the kids are well cared for while you are having treatment.
  • Treatment travel costs – covering petrol or flight costs if you need to travel for treatment.
  • Overseas travel – visiting loved ones overseas or even taking a holiday to relax.

If you or your family don’t already have health insurance, you can learn more about whether health insurance is right for you or reach out to one of our advisers for a free and no-obligation chat about your insurance needs. Also, keep in mind that our advisers aren’t paid any commission, and as Milestone Direct works with multiple insurance providers and supports recommendations with independent research, you know we’re putting your interests first.

The Southern Cross Cancer Assist add-on is a lot more affordable than most people might first think. For example, for $50,000 of cover, Cancer Assist costs from just 43 cents a week for children, or from $1.15 per week for a 30-year-old female non-smoker.

Cover the whole family

Cancer Assist is designed for the whole family - children can be added to a Cancer Assist policy at any age and you only need to pay child rates up to the age of 21 years. For larger families, you only pay for two children, the rest are free!

What next?

If you or your family have an existing Southern Cross policy, it’s well worth your while talking through what the Cancer Assist add-on could offer you, including by obtaining a free and no-obligation quote from one of our advisers. Our advisers are available toll-free on 0508 645 378 (0508 MILESTONE), by email at, or by completing your contact details below.

If you don’t have health insurance, it still makes a lot of sense to get in touch for a free and no-obligation chat about whether you and your family’s needs are met should the worst happen.