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Health insurance coverage increases

Another 3400 people took out health insurance in the September quarter, Health Funds Association data shows.

Monday, November 2nd 2015, 7:58PM

It is the third successive quarter where coverage has grown.  There are now 1.34 million people with health insurance in New Zealand, up 0.3 per cent year-on-year.

Life insurance coverage started to drop from the end of 2012, when there were 1.35 million people with cover. It fell to a low of 1.32 million in the March quarter this year before picking up again.

Much of the increase has been in the younger 25- to 35-year-old age group, which HFANZ said could be due to the increase in popularity of a new category of comprehensive health insurance products, marketed to a younger audience.

The number of people in that age group with health cover increased by 5000 people in September compared to the same time the year before.

The over-65 age group is also growing. There were an extra 4000 people covered year-on-year in September, at just over 150,000. HFANZ said that was due to an ageing population.

The biggest drop in cover was in the 15- to 19-year-old age bracket, there the number of people covered fell by 1.4%, or 1181.

Premium income for the September quarter was $31 million, up 1.3% on the three months to June.

Annual premium for the year to the end of September was $1.26 billion, up almost 6% compared to 2014.

There were $274 million in claims paid in the three months to the end of September and more than $1 billion paid for the year.

HFANZ chief executive said insurance could play a bigger role in funding New Zealand’s healthcare costs if the Government would recognize its value.

He said recent research by NZIER suggested that health insurance could be funding up to $2 billion to $3 billion per annum in healthcare costs if New Zealand could match the levels of countries with similar health systems who harnessed private funding better.

“Given the current and forecast state of public health funding, it would seem obvious that some strategic thought should go into growing alternative health funding sources. Looking to develop more robust private funding of healthcare can only help relieve public funding pressures and improve overall health outcomes,” Styles said.

He said he believed the Government’s draft health strategy, released last week, needed to give more prominence to growing private health funding to help counter the looming public funding shortfalls.

Tags: health insurance HFANZ

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