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Health insurance at record high for Kiwis

The number of New Zealanders covered by health insurance rose by 1.4%, or 18,800, to a record 1.388 million in the year ending in March, according to statistics released by the Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ).

Thursday, May 8th 2008, 4:36AM
The increase of 1.4% on the year to March 31, 2007 equating to about 50 people a day taking out health insurance policies.

The March quarter, which is traditionally negative, showed positive growth for 2008, up by 600 policies.

Health insurance claims paid in the March quarter amounted to $149 million, taking the total for the year to March 31 2008, to $631 million, an increase of $48 million or 8.3% on the previous 12 months.

Roger Styles, HFANZ executive director, believes the increase was attributable to growth in the numbers of people insured, an increase in the number of claims an insured individual makes and the increasing cost of treatment.

Significant growth was noted in the number of people aged between 20-29, up 9.2%, and the 60-69 year age group, up 11.3%.

The trend away from comprehensive policies and towards major medical insurance continues, the report says. The net 18,800 increase in lives covered represents an increase of 34,700 people with elective surgical and specialist cover, and a reduction of 15,900 having comprehensive insurance.

Elective surgical and specialist cover now accounts for 884,000 of the 1.388 million lives covered, or 63.7% of those covered by health insurance. Comprehensive health insurance accounts for just 503,600 lives covered, or 36.3% of policies.

The report says people are increasingly accepting the fact that the public system cannot deliver many elective procedures to either the quality or the timeliness that people expect from the health system, and are therefore taking matters into their own hands by taking out private health insurance.

« Fund flows improve, but still negativeSovereign takes regulation bull by the horns »

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