nib has announced it has marked one year since the launch of its COVID-19 support package that was designed to assist members and the wider community who have been impacted by the pandemic.
The company said the support has so far totalled more than $45 million.
Managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said support was introduced quickly and expanded as the pandemic unfolded and progressed.
“Each and every one of us have been impacted by COVID-19 in some way. Our support has been targeted to suit the individual needs of each of our members from premium relief, to expanded cover and additional benefits, as well as support for the communities in which we operate,” he said.
Mr Fitzgibbon said thousands of its 1.2 million members have accessed financial hardship support and been able to maintain their private health insurance.
“We provided $38.5 million in financial relief including the six-month postponement of our 1 April 2020 premium changes for all members. A further 12,000 members accessed premium waivers and suspensions, and we waived premium changes altogether for almost 10,000 members on JobKeeper or JobSeeker,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.
nib said it also partnered with its nib foundation and other charitable organisations to help respond to the increase in demand for mental health support in Australia.
“The full impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of Australians is likely to take years to realise which is why we’ve funded programs designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of the community and frontline workers,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.
“For example, over 10,000 crisis text interventions and 2,700 additional hours of crisis support has been provided by Lifeline with our funding of the expansion of Lifeline Text.
“Our partnership with NSW Rural Doctors Network also provided a series of online mental health and wellbeing resources to those working on the frontline. Meanwhile 1,500 healthcare workers also accessed $380,000 in nib Rewards to help them purchase everyday essentials, like groceries or even a new pair of trainers.”
Mr Fitzgibbon added that while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption it has also irrevocably changed how we access and receive healthcare.
“While nobody celebrates the misery caused by COVID-19, it has resulted in the fast-tracking of efficiencies within the healthcare system, with technology playing a more active role in disease prevention and management,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.
“One example of this is telehealth which we introduced as part of our support package and have since extended permanently. Even when the threat of COVID-19 subsides, we believe more and more Australians will continue to use telehealth as a convenient alternative method of care,” he added.