Kim Wilson statement
House: Health insurance soars
Health insurance premiums have spiked as much as 18.5 per cent, health minister Kim Wilson told MPs yesterday.
In some cases this will mean residents having to pay an additional $100 a month, which Ms Wilson said “can’t be easy for most working families”.
She cautioned: “We are not here to blame insurance companies or the previous government.”
Ms Wilson blamed the rise in part on the population being “sicker, older and receiving more healthcare”.
The island’s most basic package, the standard health benefit, covers only hospital and “a few non-hospital services”, MPs heard.
The rest, she said, was priced in “tiny pools among small and medium-sized employers, or individuals without group coverage — they are the most exposed of all”.
Bipartisan health reform proposals to stabilise health costs have left the Government with two options for advancement, as well as a draft benefit package now under review. That draft package, dating back to 2012, envisaged a “solid, decent” health plan requiring around $450 a month per person.
Although prices had risen in the five years since, Ms Wilson said changes to the “basic package and pool” of health insurance would avert small groups taking sudden steep premium rises.
She added: “That is what my technical teams are working on, and I will be pleased to come back to my honourable colleagues and update you again in the coming months.”
Ms Wilson noted smaller reforms achieved over the last three years, such as the “dramatic” reduction in fees for long-term hospital care.
In particular, the enhanced care pilot programme targeting chronic disease such as diabetes, in place since February 2017. had seen 206 patients enrolled to date.
Participants had “substantial” reductions in emergency department and hospital admissions, Ms Wilson said, praising the “bipartisan genesis” of the scheme.
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