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Southern Cross insurance has analysed claims data for the last financial year, and single hip replacements were, by a clear margin, the most commonly reimbursed form of surgery.
In the Southern District Heath Board region, knee replacements were the second-most claimed procedure for both men and women; nationally, for men, colonoscopy pipped knee replacement for second.
The southern list about matched national trends, although cholocystectomy (gallbladder removal) and hysteroscopy (examination of the uterus) made the southern top 10 for women but not the national list.
Southern men likewise had two procedures — spinal decompression and uteroscopy (examination of the urinary tract) — make the regional but not the national list.
The high placement of colonoscopies reflected growing awareness of bowel cancer, Southern Cross chief medical officer Stephen Child said.
"Claims show a heavy reliance on the private health sector to perform colonoscopies, which are used to look for signs of bowel cancer and investigate causes of pain, bleeding or changed bowel habits.
"The organisation funded nearly 20,000 procedures (nationally) at a cost of $43.3million."
One potential ray of light for the South was the relatively low number of claims for the surgical removal of children’s teeth.
The procedure ranked fourth in the southern region for claims, with 22 made, but nationally it was the top children’s health issue with 1379 claims, topping the common childhood operation of tonsillectomy (1012).
Nationally, Southern Cross, which has 879,000 members, paid out more than $1billion in claims in its last financial year.
Other top claims included skin cancer and lesion removal (27,000 procedures, $34.5million claimed) and chemotherapy, for which there were $26million in claims.