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Health Funds shrugs off conduct scrutiny as insured numbers grow

The Health Funds Association has moved to separate itself from concerns about conduct in the insurance sector.

Monday, August 5th 2019, 8:21PM

It has released its latest annual report, in which it records another increase in the number of New Zealanders with health insurance.

Chairman Geoff Annals said the year had been notable for the focus on sector conduct and the Government reviews intending to improve it, as well as efforts to revamp insurance contract law.

He said his association was willing to comply and members had had an industry code of conduct since 1992.

“We see ourselves as providing health services rather than financial advice, so we are always trying to find a way to pay a claim rather than get out of it. That’s what our customers expect.”

More than 95% of health insurance claims were approved, he said.

The latest statistics show 1.403 million New Zealanders have health insurance, up 1.2% on a year earlier.

The number of people covered had increased for 16 consecutive quarters.

Growth had been driven by an increase in insurance among the working age population, which the association said reflected high employment levels and interest in employer-subsidised workplace health insurance packages.

Another area of growth was in people aged over 65, which Annals said could be a result of the increasing difficulty to access publicly funded healthcare such as elective surgery.

Healthcare claims paid during the year increased by $115 million or 9.5% to $1.32 billion for the year ending March 2019.

Chief executive Roger Styles noted that there had been “consolidation” in membership over the year, which presented challenges for a member-based organisation “Not just in terms of resourcing but in maintaining a diversity of membership and viewpoints”. The merger of AIA and Sovereign reduced its membership to seven insurers.

Partners Life and nib are not members. 

Annual premium for the year ended March 31, 2019 was $1.586 billion, up 9.1% or $132 million on premium income for the March 2018 year.

Tags: health insurance HFANZ

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