Accuro Health Insurance, which has led the way in encouraging the government to provide incentives for elderly members to retain their health insurance, has welcomed a political party which supports the initiative.
At the New Zealand Healthcare Summit in Auckland, New Zealand First MP, Andrew Williams, announced his Affordable Healthcare Private Members Bill which would provide Super Gold Card holders with a private health insurance rebate of 25 percent.
The rebate, to a maximum of $500, would be paid through the Ministry of Social Development.
In his address Andrew Williams said the Private Members Bill would “encourage more senior citizens to retain their health insurance when they reach 65.” The more seniors who can maintain private health insurance, the less they’ll be placing pressure on the public health system he said.
The New Zealand First MP pointed out that premiums escalate at a time when seniors, leaving the workforce to move on to pensions, need health cover the most.
Accuro has made submission to Jo Goodhew, the Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne, the former Associate Minister and to MP, Andrew Williams.
CEO, Geoff Annals, says too many over 65s find they can no longer afford to maintain health assurance at the very time their need for health care is increasing.
“Older people on fixed incomes find themselves facing an age related rise in premiums to cover an increase in health risk. Many more would maintain health insurance if the government offered the rebate proposed by Andrew Williams,” he says.
“It’s crucial all New Zealanders continue to have access to a world class health system.
“Between 2004 and 2010 the government’s health spend increased from $7.6 billion to $12.7 billion, an increase of 41 percent. Government health spending should, and no doubt, will continue to rise. However, unless the rate of increase is reduced, future governments will face hard choices about what essential services can no longer be funded by taxpayers.”
Geoff Annals says private funding through health insurance makes a small but important contribution to the funding and effectiveness of the whole health system. It makes economic sense to support more individuals contributing in this way he says.
“It also makes sense to support everyone, including all older people, to have ready access to non-urgent treatments such as joint replacement. Everyone over 65 should have the opportunity to access non-urgent treatments that enhance their health,” Geoff comments.
“This group of people should have the potential to enjoy healthy ageing without spending their lifesavings doing so. Not only is this best for those individuals, it’s also best for our economy.”
Geoff Annals recommends our government studies the Australian model which provides an incentive for everyone on private health insurance. About half of Australians have health insurance – up from 30 percent in 1999. In comparison the proportion of New Zealanders with health insurance is dropping – 48 percent in 1990, now 30 percent and still falling.
He is delighted Andrew Williams has shown that policy makers are ready to address the issue of sustainable healthcare and has presented a proposal that strongly supports Accuro’s call for a subsidy such as a tax rebate.