INDEPENDENT NEWS

Choice to suffer: ACC privatisation

Published: Thu 17 Jul 2008 09:17 AM
NEWS RELEASE NZ Society of Physiotherapists
Choice to suffer: ACC privatisation
Many accident victims will have the choice to suffer their injuries or to pay for rehabilitation themselves, if ACC is privatised. This is what "choice" in workplace accident insurance means, physiotherapists say.
"We saw it last time ACC was privatised," said Jonathan Warren, President of the New Zealand Society of Physiotherapists. A survey commissioned by the Department of Labour in 2000 showed that the number of injury claimants dropped off by up to 40% during the time of privatisation.
Patients were so confused about how to claim coverage for their accidents that they sometimes just gave up in frustration, which resulted in chronic conditions. Alternatively, sometimes they delayed seeking treatment and therefore hindered their recovery. Some employers reportedly deterred workers from making claims in case premiums increased, and the same fear put off the self-employed. Some employers reportedly pressured workers to say their injuries were not work-related. More claims were declined, as insurance companies denied responsibility.
"Patients were caught in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare as physios and other providers struggled to see what company covered them," Mr Warren said. "It often took heaps of paperwork and phone calls to find out which insurance company insured any particular patient. Then sometimes the company would refuse to pay and we were left trying to claim from the poor patient. Also, each insurance company allowed different numbers of treatments, often a very limited number, before prior approval had to be sought, leading to delays in rehabilitation."
This situation would probably worsen as time went by, Mr Warren said. "Picture an individual who has been injured at various times – say, at two different workplaces with different insurance companies, and once while playing sport. Can you imagine how hard it would be for that individual to get coverage for ongoing problems, as each insurer passes the buck?"
Mr Warren pointed out that the last time ACC was privatised there were eight insurance companies plus ACC involved in workplace insurance. One of those companies was HIH which collapsed in Australia in 2001. "Imagine if HIH had still been operating in New Zealand workplace insurance when it went broke," said Mr Warren. "What would have happened to all those workers? Or would the New Zealand taxpayers have picked up the tab as the Australians did ($5.3 billion)?"
An increase in bureaucracy and in compliance issues is the last thing the health sector requires, Mr Warren pointed out.
ENDS

Next in Lifestyle

1917's 1,000 Yard Stare
By: Howard Davis
New Zealand set to host World Cup of Floorball in 2022
By: International Floorball Federation
Tuia 250 Voyage ends but Tuia - Our Future is Unstoppable
By: Tuia 250
NZ Fringe 2020 has launched
By: New Zealand Fringe Festival
Tuia 250 ending is just the beginning
By: New Zealand Government
Final stop for Tuia 250 Voyage celebrates past and future
By: Tuia 250
Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla arrival in Capital
By: Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Courtney Johnston will lead Te Papa into a new era
By: Te Papa
Creative NZ board appointments
By: Creative New Zealand
Auckland Fringe Announces New Festival Director
By: Auckland Fringe
2019 NZ Comedy Guild Awards handed out
By: New Zealand Comedy Guild
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media