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Number of insured increases

For the first time in four years, the number of New Zealanders with health insurance has increased on a quarterly basis, data from the Health Funds Association shows.

Wednesday, February 5th 2014, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

Eight hundred more people had insurance in the December 2013 quarter than in the quarter before.

HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said that was likely due to growing employment and economic confidence.

“It is a good sign that we’ve seen a return to positive growth in the number of policyholders largely on the back of an improving economy. As things gain momentum over the next year or two, we will likely see further growth in the number of lives covered.”

He said it was possible that more employers might offer subsidised health insurance if the labour market tightened as expected.

There were 1.336 million lives covered by health insurance at December 31, an increase of 800, or 0.1 per cent, over the past quarter and the first quarterly increase recorded since June 2009.

On an annual basis, the number of lives covered declined by 11,300, or 0.8 per cent. For the past five years, the number of lives covered has been trending downward. There has been a drop of 60,000 – or around 4.4 per cent – since December 2008.

Claims paid for the December 2013 quarter stood at $242 million, up 5.2 per cent on claims paid in the December 2012 quarter. Claims paid for the 12 months ending December 31, 2013 were $943 million, up 7.7 per cent on December 2012 year claims.

Premium income for the December 2013 quarter totalled $293 million, up $6.5 million or 2.3 per cent on the September 2013 quarter. Annual premium income for the year to the end of December was $1.140 billion, up 4.3 per cent on the December 2012 year.

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