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Health insurance claims double in a decade

New Zealand’s health insurance industry grew at the fastest rate since 2001 over the past year, the Health Funds Association (HFANZ) says.

Wednesday, August 16th 2017, 9:33PM

HFANZ has released its annual review for 2017.

Chairman Geoff Annals said the sector was in good heart.

“Our statistics for the past year show a significant increase in the number of working age New Zealanders insuring their health, contributing to an almost 2% growth in the sector and its eighth straight quarter of growth. There are now 1.366 million lives covered, or about 29% of the overall population.”

There had been a resurgence in workplace health insurance plans, he said.

“Health insurance has this year funded $1.15 billion in healthcare – up $100m on the previous year. This is a record level of elective surgery which illustrates the sizable and growing contribution private health insurance makes to New Zealand healthcare.”

Claims were up 9.5% on the year before, due to an increase in the volume of elective surgery. The rate of claims is now double what it was 10 years ago.

A report by TDB Advisory completed during the year found that health insurance gave New Zealand productivity benefits worth $100m a year and a net positive fiscal impact of $400m.

Annals said now that the government had moved to increase the age of eligibility for superannuation to 67, it was time to tackle the projected growth in public spending on healthcare.

“Treasury estimates that by 2060 public spending on healthcare will cost taxpayers 9.7% of GDP – up nearly 50% on current funding levels.

"Clearly the pressures on the public purse relating to healthcare funding are not going away anytime soon. The time is right for a more planned approach as to how we make the best use of both public and private resources to get the best health outcomes we can.

"The private sector has the resources and capacity to be funding a significantly larger contribution to healthcare in the future if we can get the framework and incentives right.”

There was $1.379m in health insurance premiums paid in the 2016-2017 year, up 6.3% on the year to March 2016.

Tags: health insurance HFANZ superannuation

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