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Decline in health insurance rates stabilising

Falling rates of health insurance in New Zealand appear to be stabilising, the latest Health Funds Association figures show.

Monday, November 3rd 2014, 1:41PM

by Susan Edmunds

HFANZ has released its data for the September quarter, showing a new record payout of $265 million claims, up 3% on the same quarter last year.

Almost a billion dollars has been paid out by New Zealand health insurance firms this year.

The number of people with health insurance has fallen sharply over recent years but the trend looks to be slowing.

Just 0.1% fewer people had health insurance in the September quarter compared to the June quarter, and 0.2% fewer than the same time last year.

There are now 1.332 million lives insured, down from 1.360 million in 2011.

HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said the drop was welcome. But he said, with just 29.4% of New Zealanders having health insurance, the sector could fund a much bigger share of New Zealand's health costs if insurance were promoted.

“We have an unsustainable public system, with spiralling costs projected but minimal budget increments planned. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that people are going to be paying a greater share of their healthcare costs than they do today. Whether by accident or design, the private share of health spending will increase from today’s meagre 17%, and alongside that the role of health insurance will also grow."

The 35-49 age group had the biggest reduction in lives covered, down about 5000 over the past year. There was an increase of 3000 for those aged 65 and over.

Premium income was $305 million for the quarter, up 2.2% on the June quarter. The annual premium income of $1.19 billion was up 5.8% on the September 2013 year.

Over the past year, the number of people with comprehensive health insurance has dropped almost 11,000 while there has been an 8100 increase in the number of people with specialist and elective surgical policies.


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