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New Guidelines for Health Insurance

New Guidelines for Health Insurance

Complying with human rights law has just got easier for health insurers with the release of a new Human Rights Commission publication.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan says Guidelines: Health Insurance Premiums and the Human Rights Act 1993 will help to clarify an area many people find confusing.

" While it is generally inconsistent with New Zealand ' s human rights law to charge different prices to people of different ages, the Human Rights Act provides a specific exemption relating to insurance.

" Health insurers are allowed to increase premiums for older people providing the increases can be reasonably justified by actuarial data. "

Ms Noonan says the Commission hopes the Guidelines will help ensure a better understanding of the relationship between health insurance and human rights law and how it works.

Health Funds Association of New Zealand Executive Director Andrea Pettett says health insurers and their customers will benefit from the new Guidelines as they clarify what health insurers should take into account when pricing premiums.

" It is important that health insurers are seen to be fair in the way they set premiums for people of different ages. The Guidelines will help people to understand why their premiums increase as they get older."

Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the New Zealand Society of Actuaries Anne Lord says, " We are pleased to see the reliance placed on the Society ' s Guidelines. The combined Guidelines should ensure that members of the public are charged appropriately for the health insurance they purchase. "

The Guidelines represent the culmination of several years of co-operative work between the insurance industry, actuaries and the Commission.

" The finished product shows the value of working as a team to produce guidance in an uncharted area, " says Ms Noonan.

Production of the Guidelines was prompted by a number of complaints to the Commission which eventually led to an agreement that the production of guidelines would be useful.

The Guidelines also fulfil one of the Commission ' s statutory functions which is to produce, where appropriate, guidelines for the avoidance of acts or practices that may be inconsistent with the Human Rights Act.

Although the Commission ' s guidelines are not legally enforceable, Courts do have regard for them when adjudicating on issues that arise in the related area.

For more information contact Kallon Basham on (04) 471 6740 or 0274 614 439. A copy of the Guidelines can be found in the resource section of the Human Rights Commission web site: www.hrc.co.nz

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