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New Zealand: Health Insurance and Tax Under the Spotlight
Source: stuff.co.nz
Source Date: Monday, June 21, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: New Zealand
Created: Jun 21, 2010

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United Future leader Peter Dunne has called for a "fresh look" at making health insurance premiums tax deductible after a leading health insurer said private sector costs were driving premiums up. The cost of claims has jumped 10 percent for the year ending December 2009. This follows an 8 percent rise the previous year. Southern Cross chief executive Dr Ian McPherson said the relentless demand coupled with higher healthcare costs was putting enormous pressure on premiums. "Southern Cross is paying 96 cents in claims to members for every dollar they pay in premiums. With healthy reserves we are able to absorb this cost and budget for a deficit in the current financial year."

Dr McPherson said this kind of deficit was not sustainable. Southern Cross was looking at ways to address the problem, including strengthening its affiliated provider networks. Some high-volume procedures, such as colonoscopies and cataract extractions, may be moved to be covered by an affiliated provider only. Dr Ian McPherson said alternatives were to reduce access to these services or put premiums up. Mr Dunne said the public health system could not provide timely care for all New Zealanders. He wanted to see United Future's policy of tax concessions for those who pay for private health insurance enacted. The policy would ensure that "some of the pressure on our public system is relieved with patients able to access the private healthcare system".
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