The number of New Zealanders with health insurance rose by 25,900 to 1.383 million during 2017, the strongest annual growth in coverage since 2001, the Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) has said.
Announcing its latest statistics, HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said over 2017, lives covered increased by 1.9%, particularly in the working age group.
Around 19,000 of the additional lives covered were in the 20-64 age group, with 12,900 of them aged 25-39. Mr Styles said much of this could be attributed to a combination of general employment growth and an increase in the availability of employer-subsidised health insurance as part of a broader focus on wellness in the workplace.
“It is pleasing to see an increasing number of employers providing health insurance plans for their staff. They recognise that wellness in the workplace is important, not only for employee health but also as part of their new workplace health and safety responsibilities. The focus there has traditionally been on safety, but now the impact of health is receiving greater attention - not just the impact of the workplace on employee health but the impact of employee health on the workplace, such as through productivity and absenteeism,” he said.
Health insurance paid out NZ$1.185 billion (US$870.5 million) in 2017, up 5.0% – or NZ$57 million – on 2016.
“Annual claims have effectively doubled over the past decade, as people have accessed both a greater volume and a wider range of services and treatments through health insurance,” Mr Styles said.
With most health insurers being not-for-profits, premium income also increased broadly in line with claims paid. Annual premium income for 2017 was NZ$1.431 billion, up 5.4% or NZ$74 million, on 2016.