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More people buying health insurance

Published: 12:16PM Monday August 07, 2006 Source: RNZ

More people are taking out health insurance with the cut to elective surgery waiting lists in public hospitals one of the reasons. 

Umbrella group, Health Funds Association's executive director, Claire Austin says there has been a 1% increase in membership of health insurance companies, or about 13,500 people joining up in the last quarter. 

She says the private sector is now funding half of common elective surgeries, such as hip replacements and cataract operations.

Austin says those seeking information on health insurance through the association often blame the cuts to waiting lists. 

Major New Zealand health insurance company, Southern Cross Healthcare, is reporting its biggest leap in membership in five years as a result of the waiting  list cuts. The insurer says its membership has increased by 7,500 to a total of 808,000 in the last year. 

Southern Cross group chief executive Ian McPherson says the waiting lists issue is a significant reason for the increase. He says the number of people without insurance paying cash for operations in private hospitals has also increased.