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Tuesday, April 26, 2022

All About ACC

When you walk into any Physiotherapy practice, or GP practice in New Zealand you'll usually see 2 price categories. ACC, and Non-ACC or Private. I get alot of questions from clients about ACC so here im going answer some of them. 

ACC logo from their website (2022)

What is ACC?

ACC is the Accident Compensation Corporation. It is a publicly funded insurance scheme that covers everyone in New Zealand. It was set up in 1974 and covers any and all accidents or injuries that happen within New Zealand, or to New Zealand Citizens while they are overseas. It removes liability for accidents and is the reason why you cant sue a business if you slip on a wet floor in New Zealand. ACC is responsible for supporting you to return to your pre-injruy level of function and fitness, or as close to as is reasonably possible. 

So what qualifies as an accident or injury?

 From the ACC Website:
"An Accident is a specific incident, event, or series of events, which causes an injury to a person" 

Generally ACC qualifies an injury as having an external force and occurring at a specific date or time. The external force can be gravity in the case of a fall, someone else in the case of being knocked by a player, or even yourself or an inanimate object if you managed to hammer your finger. What doesn't qualify is spontaneous pain that started when you woke up or got out of bed, or pain that has come on gradually over a period of days from over using a joint.
However if you have woken up with pain, it is worth considering what you did the day before. Many injuries will start with a twinge or pull at the time, which goes away, only to return after you've rested. In that case the injury would be what you were doing at the time of the twinge or pulling feeling happened. 

You can also claim a gradual process injury if it is something related to your work environment, such as carpal tunnel from working with your hands. However a claim like this will need proof and is much more likely to be accepted if submitted by your GP. 

Who is entitled to support from ACC?

ACC covers any accident that happens within New Zealand borders, even covering non residents and tourists. However ACC will only cover treatment within NZ borders as well. So for tourists and travellers, it is important you still carry health insurance to cover any support you may need once you return home and to help you get home. 

ACC also covers injuries to New Zealand Citizens that happen outside of New Zealand. However again cover is only available within New Zealand, so you will need health insurance when you travel to cover any costs incurred while you are overseas, or to help you get home.

Will my boss find out about my injury if I make a claim?

Only if your injury happened at work. In that case, they will be informed about their obligations by ACC. They will never have access to your notes or personal information. But they do need to know about anything that affects your ability to work. In some cases, when your injury is more complicated and you have to take a lot of time off work, ACC may appoint a team of health professionals to work with your employer and you to make your return to work as smooth as possible. These are called Return to Work Programmes. 

What are the benefits of making an ACC claim?

The biggest benefit is the instant reduction of appointment costs. When you appointment is covered by ACC, They pay a portion of your appointment fee. The amount left for you to pay (or surcharge) differs from practice to practice, but in April 2022, at On Pointe Physiotherapy, a Private appointment is $50, but an ACC funded appointment is $10. ACC will also cover the costs of any x-rays or scans you may require, and the cost of seeing a private surgeon or specialist if you require this for your injury. However you must be referred for these by your Physiotherapist or Doctor. This enables you to have access to the private healthcare system which moves significantly faster than the Public Health System. 

Secondly, an ACC claim entitles you to weekly compensation if you require time off due to your injury. This is usually 80% of your normal income, however your employer may top up the last 20% if you were injured at work. You will need proof of your inability to work which comes in the form of a Medical Certificate from your Doctor, Surgeon or GP.

Additionally, ACC will cover some of your travel costs if you need to travel more than 20km to seek treatment, or you travel more than 80km in a calendar month. You can find all the up to date information here.

Lastly, ACC keeps records of all your injuries, which is very useful if you have ongoing long term issues from an injruy. For example, if your injury is still affecting you years later, you may be entitled to ongoing support from ACC. This can come in the form of tools for your work or home, or funding for further appointments. The service is very individualized and will depend on your specific needs.

Do I have to stick with the physio I made the claim with?

No, your ACC claim is yours and you can take it with you wherever you go. This means you have the choice to see whichever Physiotherapist or Specialist you wish. You can even take your ACC claim number with you on holiday and see someone local to where you are holidaying. 

Who pays for ACC?

We all do! ACC is funded through a combination of taxpayer money and levy's. If you own a business you will pay an ACC Levy yearly. There are also ACC Levy's on vehicle registrations and likely many more places that we are often not even aware we are paying. 

Do I have to make an ACC Claim?

No you do not. However you will miss out on all the benefits above.

In summary, ACC is a fantastic service unique to New Zealand. If you meet the criteria, I highly recommend you make use of it. To make an appointment with On Pointe Physiotherapy, click here. 

NB; All this information is correct to the best of my knowledge as of April 2022. Please see the ACC website for more up to date information.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Why You Should Get That Injury Seen To Sooner Rather Than Later

Kiwis have a "she'll be right" attitude about many things. And our bodies are no different. I often see clients coming in only after they have been ignoring their injury for a couple of weeks, just playing the "wait and see" game. Spoiler alert! It didn't go away on its own. 

You'll Develop Bad Movement Patterns 

Our bodies are amazing and adaptable. Many people can continue on their daily lives despite their injuries. But what this often means is that we find strange work arounds for our daily tasks. This usually shows up in the same joint on the opposite side, or the joints above and below the original injury. For example, limping around on a sprained ankle will put extra strain on the uninjured side, and result in pain stiffness and sometimes extra wear on other parts of the body. 

Rehabilitation Takes Longer

Because of the poor movement patterns, it takes longer to treat the original injury, and you have to spend time unlearning these movement patterns in order to prevent latent problems from developing years down the line. The most common of these that we see in clinic is arthritis. This is usually not seen for many years, sometimes decades after the injury, but when it does appear, most people can remember a significant injury to that joint years before. 

It Will End Up Costing You More

Because rehab takes longer, requiring more physio treatments and more money spent on those treatments. Since money doesn't grow on trees, this usually means less to spend on other, more fun things.

You'll Miss Out On The Things You Love

More time spent nursing an injury means you will be out of sport/activity for longer. More time sitting on the sideline, watching others progress and hone their skills leaving you behind. This can have far reaching consequences such as missing out on selection for tryouts or an audition. 

You Could Develop A Chronic Pain Disorder

The brain is amazingly complex, but easily confused. Over time, the chemistry of the brain can change resulting in pain production long after the injury has physically healed. This pain can be debilitating, and while the injury may no longer be the problem, the pain is very much real. Treatment for Chronic Pain is a long slow process and is not always successful. Prevention is the best medicine in this case. 

You Could Miss Something Really Serious

Some injuries need urgent specialist review. As a physio, it is my job to identify when this is the case, and refer you to the appropriate person. A missed diagnosis and referral can result in avoidable surgeries, untreatable conditions and the chronic pain mentioned above. All things that are best avoided.

In summary, my advice is if you cant walk or lean on it after the injury, get it checked out. If it hurts the next day. get it checked out. And if your worried about it, just get it checked to be safe. In New Zealand we are so lucky to have ACC. You do not have to get a referral for physiotherapy, and we can lodge an ACC claim in clinic which will significantly reduce the cost of your appointment. 

To book an appointment online, visit our main page, or give us a call on 028 457 9543

All About ACC

When you walk into any Physiotherapy practice, or GP practice in New Zealand you'll usually see 2 price categories. ACC, and Non-ACC or ...