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OECD Report Initiatives Find Appeal In Private Sector

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, April 17 NZPA - Recommendations in an OECD report on New Zealand to create a greater role for private health insurance have been welcomed by the industry body here.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report yesterday identified New Zealand as the most indebted country in the group of 30 industrialised nations.

It painted a grim economic picture and suggested significant policy changes, including reviewing government ownership to try to spur competition.

The health sector came under scrutiny, with the report questioning its governance system and calling for more private sector involvement to spur competition.

Health Funds Association of New Zealand (HFANZ) executive director Roger Styles said the organisation welcomed calls for a greater role for private health insurance.

"New Zealand is currently way below the OECD average in terms of the level of private contribution to healthcare costs," he said.

"With the current fiscal pressures facing the Government, smarter use of the private sector in health is becoming even more important."

Mr Styles said a rebate proposal looked at by National last year before being dropped in the tough economic climate needed reassessment in light of the OECD report.

He said other countries such as Australia had successfully grown the private sector contribution.

While HFANZ warmed to the report's findings, others in the health sector were not so impressed.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell described the report's health prescription as "ideological bonkers".

"The report advocates running the health system as if it was a commercial business, forgetting that this was tried and failed in the 1990s."

New Zealand was too small a country to have a health system based on competing units, he said.

Mr Powell called for greater collaboration and integration of services.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said today the Government was focusing on increasing productivity in the sector rather than major structural changes.

That included encouraging greater collaboration between district health boards, increasing the number of medical training places and getting better primary care cooperation at GP level.

Meanwhile, the Researched Medicines Industry Association (RMIA) has called for the government to take note, leading into next month's budget, of recommendations for increased funding for medicines.

There was barely enough funding for existing medicine approvals, let alone new innovative medicines becoming available, RMIA chief executive Ken Shirley said.

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