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Older people being priced out of health insurance

Age Concern New Zealand Media release

9 December 2009

Older people being priced out of health insurance – Age Concern

Age Concern New Zealand says the practice of charging the highest health insurance premiums to people on the lowest incomes is just not fair.

Age Concern is receiving a growing number of reports and complaints about unsatisfactory health insurance industry practices impacting on people over 65.

In particular the ever-rising cost of insurance premiums is hitting older people in their pockets, chief executive Ann Martin says.

"Premium increases are gradually rendering health insurance unaffordable for older people, even though many have kept paying into policies for many years in anticipation of support later in life when the need is most likely to arise.

"Health Insurance is only one aspect of health costs for superannuitants, who are spending increasing amounts of their limited income on medical assistance ranging from GP visits to dental, eye, and foot care.

"HFANZ, the private health insurance association, has expressed its support for government subsidies on health insurance premiums for older people, yet seems to do very little to encourage its own members to seek more equitable premium charges," Ann Martin says.

Age Concern is calling for a close examination of health insurance industry practices.  

"We must reduce the financial and emotional burden faced by older New Zealanders as they watch premiums skyrocket beyond their reach just when they may need health insurance most."



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