HFANZ: Older New Zealanders retaining health insurance to combat DHB uncertainty

From the Health Funds Association:

More New Zealanders over 65 are holding on to their private health insurance, which the Health Funds Association (HFANZ) says is due to uncertainty over access to public-funded healthcare such as elective surgery.   

Releasing its latest statistics for the December 2019 quarter today, HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said the total number of lives covered was 1.411 million, up 2800, or 0.2 percent, for the quarter and up 8600 (0.6 percent) for the year to the end of December.

Working-age people still accounted for most of the health insurance uptake, but he said growth in the over-65 age group was significant. That older age bracket with health insurance grew by 2200, or 1.3 percent, last year to 167,000 – around 22 percent of the 65+ population.

“2019 was not a great year for DHBs, with industrial action and other difficulties resulting in a reduction for the first time in over a decade in the number of New Zealanders having elective surgery. Even though the growth in jobs and population has slowed, health insurance numbers are growing because the over-65s see the real benefit of retaining their health insurance for prompt access to treatment when they need it,” Mr Styles said.  

“Not only will they get faster access to treatment, but health insurance also provides increasing options to access treatments and drugs not funded or provided in the public sector.”

Mr Styles said claims paid were $363 million for the quarter, an increase of 5.2 percent on the December 2018 quarter. Claims paid for the year to December 31, 2019 totalled $1.379 billion, up 5.8 percent or $80 million on the previous calendar year.

Premium income for the quarter was up $12 million on the September quarter to $439 million. Annually, premium income rose $145 million or 9.3 percent to $1.695 billion.

 


HFANZ: Continued rise in numbers reflects value of health insurance

Health Funds Association of New Zealand media release:

November 11, 2019

Continued rise in numbers reflects value of health insurance

The continued rise in the number of New Zealanders covered by health insurance – now totalling 1.409 million – reflects the ongoing value people are getting out of it, the Health Funds Association (HFANZ) said today.

Releasing its latest statistics for the September quarter, HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said the total number of lives covered was up 2200, or 0.2 percent, for the quarter and 7900 or 0.6 percent for the year to the end of September, with the vast majority of that growth once again in the 25-40 age group.

He said employer-subsidised health insurance plans were continuing to prove attractive to both workers and their bosses as part of the focus on wellness in the workplace.

“In addition to the availability of wellbeing and wellness initiatives that many of our insurers now offer, health insurance means getting a better level of service through faster access to treatment when it’s needed and increasing options to access treatments and drugs not funded or provided in the public sector,” he said.

The year also saw an increase in the number of older New Zealanders with health insurance, which Mr Styles said was due to the ageing population and an acknowledgement by many policyholders that maintaining their cover was sensible in the face of increasing difficulty accessing public-funded healthcare such as elective surgery. The number of people aged 65 and over with health insurance grew by almost 1700 or 1.0 percent to 166,400 – around 22 percent of the 65+ population.

Mr Styles said claims paid were up to $369 million for the quarter, an increase of 7.9 percent on the September 2018 quarter. Claims paid for the year to September 30, 2019 totalled $1.362 billion, up 7.8 percent or $98 million on the previous September year.

Premium income for the quarter was up $9 million on the June quarter to $428 million. Annually, premium income rose $143 million or 9.3 percent to $1.659 billion.

ENDS (Full release and three-page statistical summary can be found here)

The following chart showing the estimates of changes by policy type is interesting: 

Annotation 2019-11-12 085837


Total NZers with health insurance passes 1.4 million for first time in decades

Health Funds has announced that estimated growth in policy holders has taken health insurance ownership above 1.4million people for the first time. Although good news, there are two reasons for caution about this figure. The first is that New Zealand's population has grown - so an increase in numbers covered should be happening. The second is that aspects of the figures are estimated.

 

 

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Read full summary here.


FSC - Quoteable From the First Morning of the Conference

"I have been trying to make insurance famous for the last twenty years in Australia"

Damien Mu, CEO of Australia and New Zealand...before reflecting on the exposure created by the Australian Royal Commission, and then on how the current performance of the industry is something of a burning platform, and plunging positively into the conduct conversation.

Rob Everett, Chief Executive of the FMA, reflecting on the recent thematic reviews by the FMA and current work with the RBNZ, in contrast to the Australian Royal Commission said they were focused.

"...less on trying to find a rare, but dramatic, failures. Instead more focus on what happens day by day"

Rob added, tellingly, that it is what your staff do when they are not being watched which shows the extent to which your organisation is committed to good conduct. Rob's speech on conduct obligations was balanced and interesting. It is difficult to strike the right tone when there are a variety of levels of participation and engagement in the conduct conversation. His talk reminded me to explore the interplay between what conduct means as distinct from personalised financial advice, as both often intersect at the point of suitability assessment.

"We're at half-time and we're at nil all"

Rob Flannagan, Chair of the Financial Services Council, making a rather self-effacing statement about the value of the just-launched FSC Code of Conduct. In fact the decision to develop the Code as a central activity in the redevelopment of the FSC is a great example of leadership, not fully acknowledged in a score line of 'nil all'. However, Rob was making the point that the Code has to be followed up by development of guidance, training, and monitoring. That is something I know is happening, having spent some time on replacement business recently.

 

 

 


HFANZ Annual Review

HFANZ have released the 2017/2018 annual review for health insurance in NZ. The report includes the following:

  • health insurance now funding record levels of healthcare in NZ;
  • strongest growth since 2001;
  • growing interest from employers in providing health insurance for staff; 
  • research by KPMG on the health benefits of getting more employees covered

There is also more information on the proposed KiwiHealth initiative. Click here to view the full report.  


Health insurance growth continues, claims paid hit $1.2 billion

Another data-rich press release from HFANZ: May 4, 2018

Health insurance growth continues, claims paid hit $1.2 billion

New Zealand’s health insurance industry recorded its twelfth consecutive quarter of growth in March 2018, with lives covered reaching 1.385 million and claims paid topping $1.2 billion, the Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) said today.

Announcing its latest statistics, HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said there was an increase of 2400 lives covered in the March 2018 quarter, and an increase of 20,100, or 1.5 percent, for the 12 months to March 31, 2018.

“This is the twelfth straight quarter of growth in lives covered, with 2017 showing the strongest annual growth in lives covered since 2001. Much of this growth appears to have come from an increase in the numbers of people with employer-subsidised health insurance as part of an increased focus on wellness in the workplace,” he said.

Health insurance paid out $281 million in claims for the March 2018 quarter, up 8.6 percent on the previous March, and $1.207 billion for the March 2018 year, up 5.4 percent – or $62 million – on the 12 months to March 31, 2017.

Mr Styles pointed out that in 2008 the annual claims total was $631 million, so that amount had doubled over the decade.

“People now have access to both a greater volume and a wider range of services and treatments through health insurance,” he said.

“Given media coverage is dominated by various demands on the public health sector budget, it’s easy to overlook the significant and growing contribution to healthcare funding which health insurance provides in New Zealand.”

Premium income for the March 2018 quarter totaled $373 million, up $4 million on the December 2017 quarter. Annual premium income for the year to the end of March was $1.454 billion, up 5.5 percent or $76 million, on the March 2017 year.

ENDS (Full release and three-page statistical summary can be found by clicking this link)


Health Funds Association Annual Review

The Health Funds Association Annual Review can be found at this link. Some highlights below: 

  • Lives covered up 23,800 or 1.8 percent for the year;
  • Premium income of $1.379 billion for year ended 31 March 2017, up $82 million (6.3 percent) on March 2016 year;
  • Claims paid for March 2017 year of $1.150 billion up $99.4 million (9.5 percent) on March 2016 year claims.

HFANZ received a report on the net impacts of health insurance in New Zealand, carried out for the industry by Wellington consultancy TDB Advisory. Unlike previous research projects which have sought to look at the impacts of particular policy initiatives, such as subsidies, this work provides a broader assessment of the net impacts of PHI in New Zealand, compared with the counterfactual (i.e. what things would be like in the absence of health insurance). Despite very conservative assumptions, the report finds the existence of PHI results in significant net benefits for New Zealand. These include:

  • An improved level of health coverage and outcomes;
  • Productivity benefits equating to around $100 million annually;
  • Net positive fiscal impact of around $0.4 billion annually

Insurance Can Help Meet Surgical Shortfall - A Case Study

You can read the release from the HFANZ on insurance meeting the shortfall in funding for surgery. But before you do, it begs a question: is there a shortfall?

Well, you don't have to take my word for it. Read this

Insurance can help meet surgical shortfall - HFANZ

The Health Funds Association (HFANZ) says tens of thousands more New Zealanders could be getting timely access to surgery each year if the Government looked seriously at measures to boost health insurance coverage.

HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles made the claim in the wake of yesterday’s release of data showing thousands more people missing out on surgical assessments across New Zealand in the December 2015 quarter.

“Health has had massive funding injections from Government but the system can’t cope by tax funding alone. People are falling through the cracks in the public system, while we have a private health insurance system which is massively underutilised, with just 29 percent of people covered,” he said.

The Ministry of Health’s National Patient Flow showed more than 20,000 people had their surgical assessments declined, delayed or transferred in the December 2015 quarter – a level similar to that in the September quarter.

“It’s time for the Government to start making better use of private funding sources like health insurance, which has huge potential to relieve pressure on the public system. It currently contributes $1 billion annually to total health expenditure and has the capacity and ability to do much more. New Zealanders with health insurance gain prompt access to treatment when they needed it, with no wait for surgery.” 

In the last year, insurers’ healthcare claims rose by $54 million, mostly for elective surgery, Mr Styles said.

The annual statistics are detailed in the HFANZ annual review, released today, available at http://www.healthfunds.org.nz.

ENDS


HFANZ: Ministry Figures Confirm Waiting List Pressure

HFANZ's latest media release:

Ministry figures confirm waiting list pressure

District Health Board data released today has confirmed more and more people are waiting for elective surgery.

The Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) says the latest specialist referral figures from the Ministry of Health confirm two key trends:

  1. The level of unmet need is increasing;
  2. The considerable additional investment in health is only keeping pace with the growth in demand.

HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said the figures were consistent with the association’s own research, which showed up to 280,000 people were waiting for surgery.

“The numbers reported by DHBs are in line with our research,” he said. “More and more people need surgery, but our public system is stretching just to keep pace with growing demand, while less urgent cases have to wait longer and longer.

“What the DHB figures don’t show is the gap between referrals and surgery. The gap between needing and getting surgery is unmet need, and that’s growing.”

Mr Styles said the ministry’s assessment of unmet need was lower than HFANZ’s, but the trend was unmistakeable. 

“More people are waiting for surgery and they are waiting longer,” he said.

ENDS