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Insurance can help meet surgical shortfall - HFANZ

July 27, 2016

Insurance can help meet surgical shortfall - HFANZ

The Health Funds Association (HFANZ) says tens of thousands more New Zealanders could be getting timely access to surgery each year if the Government looked seriously at measures to boost health insurance coverage.

HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles made the claim in the wake of yesterday’s release of data showing thousands more people missing out on surgical assessments across New Zealand in the December 2015 quarter.

“Health has had massive funding injections from Government but the system can’t cope by tax funding alone. People are falling through the cracks in the public system, while we have a private health insurance system which is massively underutilised, with just 29 percent of people covered,” he said.

The Ministry of Health’s National Patient Flow showed more than 20,000 people had their surgical assessments declined, delayed or transferred in the December 2015 quarter – a level similar to that in the September quarter.

“It’s time for the Government to start making better use of private funding sources like health insurance, which has huge potential to relieve pressure on the public system. It currently contributes $1 billion annually to total health expenditure and has the capacity and ability to do much more. New Zealanders with health insurance gain prompt access to treatment when they needed it, with no wait for surgery.”

In the last year, insurers’ healthcare claims rose by $54 million, mostly for elective surgery, Mr Styles said.

The annual statistics are detailed in the HFANZ annual review, released today, available at http://www.healthfunds.org.nz.


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