Taking care of people, co-op-style

Accuro Health Insurance CEO Geoff Annals says the co-operative business model ensures customer and shareholder needs are aligned.

“We are run by New Zealanders for New Zealanders, so we know what New Zealanders want and need from their health insurance

“We’re not-for-profit, meaning everything we do is for those who own us – our members,” he says.

“We began in 1971 as the Hospital Service Welfare Society, a Wellington-based health insurer for health professionals. Initially, we provided comprehensive health cover to those workers who were employed by the 30 national hospital boards and our membership and services grew quickly.

“We first offered comprehensive cover to the public in 2007 when we changed our name to Accuro, which is Latin for ‘taking care’”.

A former nurse Geoff, pictured, says the co-operative business model has proven its value and durability over the years. He points to the growing body of evidence that highlights the sustained advantages offered by member-owned enterprises.

“I’m continually surprised to find how many successful, innovative and forward thinking business in New Zealand are actually co-ops and mutuals. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at all because the co-op model is well proven for exactly these qualities.

“Since accepting the role of CEO of Accuro, I have seen the company go from strength to strength. Much of this is due to the fact the needs and interests of our customers and of our owners are completely aligned. Our members are our customers and our owners.

“Health insurance is a tough, competitive business and innovation is important. Accuro has been an innovator in rewarding customers who take responsibility for their own health, for example we offer a discount based on BMI (body mass index) readings among other loyalty benefits and discounts. We also provide many online services, including being able to buy health insurance and lodge claims online, all of this is done to make it easier for our members to take advantage of the services Accuro provides.

“I feel confident that co-ops will be around for a long time, changing with the times and often leading those changes. In today’s challenging business world the co-op model is reasserting itself as a better model for long-term business sustainability.”