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Could mortality be improved in NZ? And other news

Chatswood Consulting have taken a look at leading causes of death to identify areas where substantial life expectancy improvements could be made. We focused our analysis on reducing deaths during working life (from age 20 to 64). There are 2,562,000 normally resident New Zealanders in that age range. In 2019 there were 5,787 deaths in that age group. The top five causes of death are:

• Neoplasms (cancer)

• Cardiovascular diseases

• Self-harm and interpersonal violence

• Transport injuries

• Diabetes and kidney diseases

We compared New Zealand’s performance to the OECD average and then, where we already exceeded the average, to a country that is similar to ourselves in income per capita that has the best performance (lowest working life death rate) for the particular cause of death.

179 female cancer deaths per year could be prevented if New Zealand were just able to bring our cancer experience up to the level of the average for the OECD.

Were we to improve to the best performance in the OECD with cardiovascular disease we could reduce working life deaths by 595 lives per year.

NZ’s performance is already above the average for the OECD for transport injuries, but if we were to improve to the level of Ireland, we could save 95 deaths per year.

With diabetes the potential gains to the best performer in the OECD would save 69 deaths per year.

Our report details some of the known risk factors in each of these categories, possible opportunities for improvement, and the number of live that could be saved.

How can insurers help?
The insurance industry could lobby government to affect policy changes. Communicating directly with their customers to provide education, advise lifestyle changes which could provide benefits or even incentivise customers through things like fitness targets met result in lower premiums. Catching conditions early can also reduce mortality – special offers for screening health care services such as breast screening and mole maps could be incorporated into policies.

If you already subscribe to a Chatswood news or data product, just let us know if you would like a copy of the report, and we shall send it free of charge. If you are not a subscriber, please contact to obtain pricing information.

Already, several insurers promote good health. Some have more formalised programmes than others: such as AIA Vitality. A few have joined health initiatives, particularly those supporting good mental health, quitting smoking, and increasing activity levels. If you are interested to explore opportunities for the sector to engage more in this area, please drop us a line to arrange a time to talk.

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