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Members To Lobby For A Government Subsidy

23 November 2004

Members To Lobby For A Government Subsidy

Private health insurance policy holders are being urged by fellow members to lobby their local Member of Parliament for a 30% government subsidy on premiums.

Following the release of a report last month, recommending the Government look at the future affordability of healthcare via a health insurance subsidy, members of the Southern Cross Medical Care Society vowed to push this issue to the forefront of Government agendas.

Southern Cross member, Murray Seaward said, “I have paid taxes all my life and in doing so, contributed to the public healthcare system.

“I have also paid for private health insurance for 29 years - a third of this country’s population have chosen this option so when we need surgery we can have it without waiting.

“This means we are not adding to the public list and the Government should recognise this,” said Mr Seaward.

Group Chief Executive, Dr Ian McPherson said, “We received overwhelming support for the initiatives outlined in the report when we spoke to members in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

“In fact, in the Christchurch meeting a member called for everyone to lobby their local Member of Parliament and he received unanimous support.

“As a result of this, every member is receiving information from this week about the report and how to go about contacting their local MP,” said Dr McPherson.

The report draws on the current Australian experience of health insurance and was prepared for Southern Cross by Australian economics consultancy Econtech and Professor Ian Harper - a leading adviser to the Australian Government and one of Australia’s most distinguished academic economists.

Professor Ian Harper says the rise of health costs in New Zealand has been eroding the affordability of health insurance and led to a decline of the percentage of population covered.

“Both this report and practices in Australia show that a subsidy on health insurance premiums boosts insurance coverage and significantly reduces pressure on the public health system.

“With increased coverage, health insurance funding would replace some government spending in the public health system,” said Professor Harper.

“And even though the New Zealand Government would incur the cost of providing the subsidy, it would also reap the benefits of a transfer of public patients into the private health system.

“This could mean shorter queues in the public hospital system, as those choosing to take up health insurance cover are treated in minimal time under the private system.”


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