Fully funded health insurance scheme for carded high performance athletes


High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ) has introduced a new fully funded health insurance scheme for carded high performance athletes. The scheme, effective from today, is provided through the nib Group and forms part of HPSNZ’s increased focus on athlete wellbeing.

HPSNZ currently supports 359 carded high performance athletes across 19 sports and all of them will be covered under the scheme unless they have opted out prior to the scheme going live today.

“The introduction of this scheme follows the recognition that the volume and intensity of training and competition at the elite level, may predispose athletes to injury and illness,” says HPSNZ Chief Executive Michael Scott.

“We hope that having access to this policy will largely remove any concerns athletes may have about access to treatment and the related costs.”

Mr Scott says it has become clear that New Zealand’s high performance system needs to create a better balance between winning and wellbeing.

“Wellbeing is an enabler to winning and by addressing the wellbeing of athletes and others in the high performance system we will enhance New Zealand’s competitive advantage,” he says.

“The launch of this health insurance scheme for athletes follows the introduction of an interim complaints mechanism in May. Both are important initiatives to support athlete wellbeing, and form part of a broader body of work we are undertaking with our partners to strengthen and evolve our high performance system.”

The nib Group policy covers athletes’ eligible pre-existing conditions not already covered by ACC and will offer full coverage for hospital, surgical and medical benefits plus specialist consultations and diagnostics (e.g. MRI scans). The athlete health insurance cover complements ACC by covering non accident-related conditions; ACC will continue to support athletes with injuries caused by accidents.

“Currently these types of treatments are funded by a combination of HPSNZ, National Sport Organisations and/or the athletes themselves,” Mr Scott says.

“This new initiative will provide our medical staff with more options to treat these conditions.”

Olympic trampolinist Dylan Schmidt is one of the many high performance athletes who will benefit from the health insurance cover. The 22-year-old says the insurance scheme takes away a major ongoing concern for athletes and enables them to stay focussed on performance.

"This scheme is an investment in the wellbeing of athletes, which is great to see."

"Obviously no athlete wants their career interrupted by injury or illness, but this insurance will give us peace of mind that our medical costs are covered if ACC can't cover them. That means we can focus everything on our performance and rehab. It's also great that we can continue our policy once we retire with everything still covered."

Dylan has returned to training and competition this year with his sights set on the Tokyo Olympic Games, following a knee injury that required surgery and sidelined him for 2018. 

As well as being covered for eligible pre-existing conditions, athletes will be able to continue with the same policy after they retire or become de-carded if they wish to fund the premiums themselves (i.e. pre-existing conditions will still be covered).