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Health insurance needs a revamp

Health insurance products need to change, Sovereign managing director Simon Blair says, to address affordability issues.

Tuesday, September 30th 2008, 6:43AM
He says the health market is a challenge for insurers.

"I think we almost have to start again (on health insurance)."

He says New Zealand has inherited a way of doing health insurance which doesn't really work now.

Blair, who has much experience in the health insurance sector says the ideal policy is a mix of public and private provision. Currently it is arguably weighted too heavily towards public provision.

One of the issues at the moment is that it is mainly the older age groups that have cover which makes the pool of people covered quite expensive.

Also as people age and premiums rise, the number of people covered tends to fall.

This situation is made worse in tougher economic times: "Health insurance is only affordable in certain economic climates."

The first half of this year has seen a drop off in cover.

He says the big three players, Southern Cross, Tower and Sovereign, need to come up with a new generation product which is more attractive to people and entices young people to take out cover.

Would the big three get together to develop a new product? Blair says the respective managers are all good mates, but sitting down and "working together on product development is a bit of a stretch."

Blair says health is an important part of the offering advisers have to offer their clients, and it's important to Sovereign so it has a "complete package" of policies.

"Advisers recognise it's really important for their customers," he says.

« Opinion: As old as the hillsCalls for health insurance revamp irks provider »

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