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Health insurance claims hit $1 billion

Health insurance has funded a billion dollars in healthcare in the past year, according to statistics released by the Health Funds Association of New Zealand.

Saturday, April 25th 2015, 2:59PM

The milestone was reached in the March quarter, with total claims paid amounting to $1000 million for the year ending March 31, 2015 – up 3.9% on the previous March year. The annual value of claims paid has effectively doubled in the past decade.

Despite the number of New Zealanders with health insurance being just 29%, HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said this was a sizable and growing contribution to total health spending.

“Health insurance really deserves more credit for its contribution to overall health funding in New Zealand. There are limits to what can be afforded via the public purse, and having a significant chunk of healthcare financed via insurance helps the public sector to focus its resources to best effect,” he said.

“With a constant stream of complaints about the lack of public funding, there are now a billion reasons for having a closer look at how health insurance can help with funding.”

Styles said there was huge scope to increase the contribution to health funding if overall coverage levels could be boosted. He pointed to recent research by NZIER which showed the funding contribution from health insurance could be doubled or even tripled with greater take-up.

“We’ll be looking more closely at some of the options around boosting health cover in the workplace. NZIER had flagged these as having productivity benefits in addition to the health funding benefits, so there appear to be some strong policy arguments underpinning this,” Styles said.

The ranks of policyholders over 65 also continue to grow, with lives covered reaching the 150,000 mark in March.

Total lives covered by health insurance dipped slightly, down 1600 (0.1%) in the quarter or 3700 (0.3%) for the year. Total premium income grew 6% for the year.

Tags: health insurance

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