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Health funds stats 'hark back 20 years'

The number of New Zealanders with health insurance has passed 1.4 million for the first time in more than 20 years.

Wednesday, November 7th 2018, 6:00AM 1 Comment

A record additional 26,530 lives were covered in the year to September 30, taking the total to 1.401 million, surpassing the September 2009 high of 1.392m.

The Health Funds Association said it was the 14th consecutive quarter in which the number of lives covered increased.

Chief executive Roger Styles said 2017-2018 had the strongest growth since 2001.

The number of people in the 70- to 74-year-old age bracket with cover was up 6.5%. For those aged 25 to 29, it was up 3.9%, 30 to 34 was up 4.4% and 35 to 38 was up 3.9%.

Styles said the working-age population had shown strong growth in insurance adoption as more employers used health insurance as a perk for employees.

Around 18,500 of the 26,500 new policyholders were in the 20-64 age group, with almost half (11,000) being aged 25-39.

"These latest figures take us back to levels higher than before the 2008 global financial crisis and hark back to 20 years ago when close to half the population had health insurance. Back then most policies were comprehensive cover and offered reimbursements for things like GP and dental visits. Now around 70% of policies are for major medical or surgical and specialist cover, with insurers funding an increasing range of treatments,” Styles said.

Claims paid for the September quarter totalled $342 million, up 6.7% on the September 2017 quarter, and brought the total for the 12 months to the end of September to $1.263 billion, up $89 million or 7.7.6%, on the September 2017 year.

Styles said claims paid had effectively doubled over the past decade as people accessed both a greater volume and a wider range of services and treatments through health insurance, and the public system had struggled to keep pace with demand growth, especially for elective surgery.

The growth in healthcare claims paid was reflected in the growth in premiums over the same period. Premium income for the September 2018 quarter totalled $391 million, up by $8m on the June quarter. Annual premium for the year ended September 30, 2018 was $1.516 billion, up 7.4% or $105m on the September 2017 year.

Tags: health insurance

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Comments from our readers

On 7 November 2018 at 10:18 am Bikedude said:
Si given that the Public Sector Healthcare is suffering from overload, why isn't the NZ Govt encouraging private healthcare uptake by giving tax incentives for those that choose to unburden the Govt to a large extent?

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