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Health Leader Applauds Affordable Healthcare Bill

Health Leader Applauds Affordable Healthcare Bill March 1, 2013

The health insurer at the forefront of encouraging the government to introduce tax incentives to enable elderly people to maintain their own health insurance is delighted the first step has been taken in parliament.

The CEO of Accuro Health Insurance, Bruce Morrison, strongly supports the announcement of a New Zealand First member’s bill proposing;

• A 25 percent health insurance rebate for people over 65
• Removing Fringe Benefit Tax from employer sponsored health insurance.

Six months ago Bruce Morrison reported that too many elderly people were cancelling their policies because they couldn’t afford them just when it was so important they should retain them. That trend has continued into 2013.

As a result these people, because of an ageing demographic, end up in the public health system and their ongoing requirement for shoulder, knee and heart surgery takes a significant share of the health budget he commented.

In supporting the bill which would bring financial relief to older people with health insurance, Bruce says it’s important the government studies the Australian model which provides an incentive for everyone on private health insurance.

“Their government has an effective public/private model where nearly half of Australians have health insurance, up from 30 percent in 1999. In comparison less than a third of New Zealanders have health insurance, down from 48 percent in 1990.

“This bill offers a similar sort of model. If health insurance remained at the same level of 20 years ago there’d be a public health saving of $300-400 million,” he says.

“Figures show that between 2004 and 2010, the government’s health spend rose from $7.6 billion to $12.7 billion, an increase of 41 percent. He warned the government will face an inability to fund the public system within 20 years,” he warned.

“I applaud this bill which addresses that problem now and offers a solution to the cost escalation in the years to come.”

Bruce Morrison supports the New Zealand First assertion that “boosting uptake and retention of health insurance alleviates the burden on public health by freeing up resources and reducing waiting lists. Private hospitals already act as a backstop for public hospital overflow.”

“The public purse can’t continue to look after elective surgery. Private health must take a bigger role and we want to work with the government to achieve that end and help strengthen the relationship between public and private providers,” Bruce Morrison says.

Accuro, which last year received Consumer NZ’s tick of approval for providing the best cover for the lowest possible price, is a not-for-profit organisation, established more than 40 years ago.

The New Zealand First Bill also encourages more employer-funded insurance by scrapping Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) on workplace health plans. This aligns FBT treatment of health insurance with insurance under the ACC scheme.

In welcoming the Bill, Bruce Morrison says many employers would love to provide health insurance for their staff but “it’s too hard and too expensive.” Accuro provides a very competitive product and specialises in group schemes but, despite its benefits, the government continues to make it hard for the employer.

“The introduction of the Member’s Bill to parliament is an important first step. As a company passionately involved in providing quality health insurance, we hope that members on all sides of the House, will carefully consider the merits of the Bill in the interests of thousands of New Zealanders.”

ENDS

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