A research report produced by TDB Advisory has found the existence of private health insurance (PHI) in New Zealand benefits government and the economy by about half a billion dollars annually.
Unlike previous research which has sought to look at the impacts of particular policy initiatives, such as subsidies, this work provides a broader assessment of the net impacts of PHI in New Zealand, compared with what might be the case in its absence.
Despite very conservative assumptions, the report finds the benefits of PHI include:
An improved level of health coverage and outcomes;
Productivity benefits equating to around $100 million annually;
Net positive fiscal impact of around $0.5 billion annually.
It also discusses changes to the nature of health insurance over the past decade or so which have greatly reduced the extent to which PHI can be viewed as pro-consumptive.
The Health Funds Association is considering further research on possible policy options, particularly regarding opportunities to expand the level of employer-funded PHI in New Zealand from current levels. HFANZ chief executive Roger Styles said there were possible initiatives in this space which could benefit both health outcomes and productivity, without requiring a contribution from Government.