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More Christmas Surprises

Written By: - Date published: 3:15 pm, December 21st, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: ACC - Tags:

Well, this one isn’t such a surprise, it has been expected.  But the timing is classic, as with much bad news coming out at the moment with Key conveniently in Hawaii, and public too busy getting into the spirit of the season / consumerism.  We’ll sell Whirinaki, the hobbit thing was a farce to deny workers their rights, the economy is tanking etc etc, but look, there’s Santa Claus!

The disastrous experiment of competition for ACC from the 1990s is to be repeated.  Businesses will be allowed to chose a private firm to cover their workplace injuries.  Workers won’t get to choose their level of cover of course, they’re just the ones who get injured or killed – why should they have a say.

It was such a mess last time, Labour just had to legislate as soon as they came to power and pretend like it had never happened.  Most businesses will probably learn from last time, and stay well clear – it’s a shame National can’t learn.  Some cheap-skates will no doubt try and reduce their workers’ cover, profiting Australian insurers.  It’s often a wonder if National is really the Australia First Party

With ACC style competition in Australia, their workers take longer to get back to work.  PriceWaterhouseCoopers showed how much more efficient our ACC system is than anything else.  But no, National seem determined to add costs to Kiwis to benefit their Aussie mates.

.

Bonus: CTU seem to have excellent resources on the move to privatise workplace-insurance.

37 comments on “More Christmas Surprises”

  1. John Dalley 1

    Phil Goff where are you. I expect from you a public warning to those private insurers that Labour will can their business as soon as they are back in government.

  2. Radman 2

    Workers won’t get to choose their level of cover of course, they’re just the ones who get injured or killed – why should they have a say.

    Do they get a say now under the state monopoly?

  3. John Q Public 3

    In what way was it a “mess last time”? Describe how on earth this move could be construed as “privatisation”? Will there be an IPO? Who is going buy ACC? Why are you deliberately misrepresenting this story?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Why is this privitisation? Yeah easy, you give away large chunks of business from ACC to the private sector for profit insurers.

      Next question.

      • Jaghut 3.1.1

        Come on Colonial, think of the younger readers here who don’t know what it was like before with competition… explain why this is bad apart from the privatisation = bad, state control = good mantra?
        Thanks in advance 🙂

        • NickS 3.1.1.1

          The short explanation: private insurers under-priced their schemes to attract business, then bumped prices up to competitive levels and regularly refused to pay out or quickly for injuries, often leaving ACC to pick up the pieces, on top of increasing ACC costs for everyone else due to decreased total amount of ACC levies available.

      • John Q Public 3.1.2

        That’s just a laughably skewed interpretation of “privatisation”.

        • RedLogix 3.1.2.1

          You are failing to make the basic distinction between privatising the insurance provider ACC and privatising the marketplace for accident insurance.

          As a potential consumer of accident insurance (either payer of premiums or a consumer of their services) you really don’t care who owns your insurance company… just so long as on average you get good value from them.

          But the most powerful driver of ‘value for money’ is the kind of marketplace your insurance provider exists in. If you are buying something short-term and simple, like a can of baked beans, then a competitive market will likely deliver good value.

          But experience tells us that competitive markets are very inefficient at delivering complex long-term services, like accident insurance. This kind of market has a huge information and power imbalance against consumers. For a start purchasing workplace accident insurance is compulsory, so the relatively few insurers in the market have very little incentive to compete on price, and like banks, will operate effectively as an informal cartel.

          But when you a buying their products you have no way of knowing exactly when, or how, or even if you will ever use them. You have no way when buying the insurance of judging how well they it perform at some completely indefinite point in the future. Worse still, once you do need their services, you have no choice but to use them and only them. You cannot at that point in time switch to a more ‘competitive’ provider. This gives insurerers every incentive to provide the least possible value as the most obvious route to maximise their profit.

          Which indeed overseas experience tells us is exactly what happens.

        • Galeandra 3.1.2.2

          The same sort of ‘laughable’ that had my brother chortling while he waited painfully for elbow reconstructuion surgery for over eighteen months. ACC would do nothing because he was a private sector overhang from National’s last debacle. Skew you John Q Public.

          • Descendant Of Smith 3.1.2.2.1

            Yeah so the private provider was still liable to pay for the surgery – they’d collected the employer premiums – so why wouldn’t they pull finger and do it?

            Wasn’t ACC’s fault as far as I can see.

  4. Murray 4

    from what I remember last time it was a very good system, especially for self employed and small business. Far better then whats in place now.
    Only thing that stuffed it up was labours stupidity when they got on power. They canned it.

    In what way was it “a disastrous experiment of competition for ACC”, Why was it a mess last time?

  5. Descendant Of Smith 5

    My wife’s experience with CRM was abysmal and it was mainly over support for rehabilitation as she was only working part-time due to needing to care for children with disabilities and regular periods in Starship and Wellington and Napier hospitals.

    This experience included:
    1. Being told they only had to rehabilitate her to work 7 hours a week cause that was all she was working – no you have to rehabilitate back to full-time work
    2. Being told her decision to work part-time was a lifestyle choice
    3. Being assessed by their tame specialist as fit for work without any cognisance of ongoing pain and contradicting 3 previous specialist reports – she has no cartilage or ligaments in her wrist and a bone fusion to reduce the pain but to ensure some movement yet was told her range of movement was normal despite three other reports – including the one that assessed her for permanent impairment
    4. The specialist telling her that if she was her patient he wouldn’t recommend she go back to work yet but that wasn’t what he was being paid to do so his recommendation was that she was fit for work and no further rehabilitation was required.
    5. Actively planning a worktrial that included OT support to ensure the workplace didn’t need any modification and that there would be a steady build up of hours to see how many she could work without being in undue pain. Turning up on day 1 to find no OT, no knowledge by the employer of one and an understanding by the employer that she was there to commence full-time work
    6. Delays of up to two months in paying both earnings related compensation – a whole $50-00 per week – and also the quarterly disability payments despite the fact the employer had paid out this money. It was obviously better sitting in their bank accounts than ours.
    7. Sending out information about her claim with other peoples information attached – both strangers and in one case a fellow worker who was getting psychiatric counseling
    8. Loss of notes and discussions
    9. Stating at review that the reason they had no more to say was because it was obvious that another year had gone past and her wrist must be better after that time i.e. totally ignorant of the
    damage and fusion and continual pain.
    10. At review not sending us the information they were supposed to forwarded us the information the review people sent them to say we could make further representations following the response from the specialist who had been asked for more information by the review board
    11. Not increasing the payments for the permanent injury annually by inflation as they were supposed to – they remained the same for 5 years until we transferred back to ACC who pointed this out.
    12. Making it extremely difficult to get new wrist splints etc as there wore out
    13. Not being able to find the file and not sending it to ACC like they were supposed to

    That in a nutshell – albeit a big one – was our experience with a private insurer. totally abysmal and a fight all the way.

    There were other problems but that’s a big enough list.

    On the other hand ACC has been a pleasure to deal with and have bent over backwards to be helpful.

    :

    • Descendant Of Smith 5.1

      I would add that it took six months to get them to accept that they had to rehabilitate – that was six months delay and six months stress for my wife. The thing is she wanted to get back to work. CRM were the barrier.

      • Murray 5.1.1

        certainly something to think about, Then again some people have such horror stories about ACC

        • Craig Glen Eden 5.1.1.1

          Murray I can tell you from personal experience the private insurers make their money from denying legitimate claims. I am a health provider and I refuse to have any dealings with the existing private firms that cover the Police, Fire Service, Air NZ, Hospital Workers.

          I refuse to deal with them because they are arrogant and will not resolve issues’. I have had many bad experiences which I wont bore you with but the last one was they claimed I was billing them for work when in fact they had a receipt in front of them from a patient not a invoice as this guy was claiming.No matter how many times I explained I had no business with them and it was a receipt not an invoice they wouldn’t listen he was trying to tell me how much the insurer would pay me for my service and was I aware of their policy and pricing.I informed this guy I had no contract with them and as the business owner I determined who I did business with.
          In the end I had to simply hung up as I had patients to see. Ten minutes latter they rang back all very greasy( he realized by now it was a receipt) wanting info.At that point I told them my chargers and what I would charge them for what they wanted and if they didn’t like it I wouldn’t give them the info.

          ACC has got worse under National but they are still way better to deal with than the private firms. You don’t always get what you want but you can have a rational conversation with them. Seriously if you have a wife or kids I hope they never have the misfortune of being covered by them you to of coarse but I hope you get my drift.

          Also no true market exists in work place insurance because the worker has no ability to change to another insurer after a bad experience, who they are insured by is controlled by the employer ( who is not the consumer ) which is a major problem. I can tell you now my employees will be covered by ACC.

  6. NickS 6

    Bork.

    What’s more annoying is that the msm coverage only gives sound bites from the opposition, which don’t sound striking nor substantial, and as this posts points out, the msm merrily ignore prior historical experience. Despite the writers obviously being old enough to remember the 1990s.

  7. Adrian 7

    As I recall the biggest Aussie insurer ( HIH ) who sucked up all the small NZ sacrificial companies that sprung up last time, went tits up a few years later costing the Oz Gummint millions and millions as it was no more than a huge rort. A few others also went the same way meaning a huge number of Aussies had no cover at all.

  8. millsy 8

    We. Are. Screwed.

    Thats pretty much it.Quite simply private insurers refuse to pay out, whereas ACC has a legal obligation to pay out on EVERY claim.

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    Hypothetical.

    Let’s say you have some sort of terrible accident. The sort that makes accident insurance a necessity for any sort of life worth having. The sort of accident that getting a life back from, will cost millions over the term of that life.

    Would you want the lawyers looking over your insurance claim to:

    i) ultimately be working for a politician reliant on voters, or

    ii) ultimately be working for the insurance company’s shareholders.

    If you would rather want “i”, and bearing in mind that even if these sorts of accidents are highly unlikely to happen to you, but absolutely certain to happen to some of your fellow citizens, can you support nacts policy?

  10. felix 10

    Labour.

    Where

    the

    fuck

    are

    you?

    • NickS 10.1

      Awaiting the PR hacks to come up with something most likely.

      • felix 10.1.1

        “For the second time in just over a decade, a National govt is legislating to allow the Australian insurance industry to gouge 200 million dollars a year from the NZ public.

        We believe in the ACC system and we’ll fight to protect it. We won’t let the health and safety of ordinary kiwis be dictated by the whim of the market.

        The first thing we did when we were elected in 1999 was to get rid of this stupid, short-sighted legislation and we’ll do the same as soon as we’re elected to govt again.

        ENDS”

        Rinse and repeat.

        (That took about a minute. It’ll take about 2 more minutes to iron out the lumps and strengthen the language. Get to fucking work.)

    • Carol 10.2

      They’ve made some statements, but either the statements are not written or said in a way to get MSM attention, or the MSM will tend to ignore them whatever they say:

      http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1012/S00381/nationals-acc-privatisation-plan-hidden-until-now.htm

      Tuesday, 21 December 2010, 2:20 pm
      Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

      David Parker
      ACC Spokesperson

      21 December 2010 Media Statement

      National’s ACC privatisation plan hidden until now

      New Zealanders will end up paying more for ACC and get less coverage under National’s plan to privatise the workers’ account, says Labour’s ACC spokesperson David Parker.

      “We know that opening the workers’ account to privatisation will, over time, lead to increased costs for consumers and reduced coverage as private insurance companies will have to make a profit.

      The statement continues at the URL.

      And this comment by Goff is buried well down in the TVNZ article:

      http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/minister-acc-changes-needed-cut-debt-3980903

      Labour leader Phil Goff said ACC was not in such a bad state and accused the government of using the 2010 financial condition report to move towards privatisation.

      “It doesn’t need fixing,” he said. “It’s the best system in the world, it’s a lot cheaper than the Australian system.”

      • felix 10.2.1

        Why would anyone bother to report those?

        The important bit is “We will scrap this immediately on gaining office”.

        If they don’t say that, what’s the news?

  11. MrSmith 11

    It must be bloody tedious at the national party xmas doo , they only have one 20 year old record that just keeps playing over&over&over again!

  12. Sookie 12

    Ahh, good old ideology and greed. Dictating National Party policy since whenever. Forget about common sense and fairness and fiscal prudence and all that other stuff that makes the country tick over nicely, lets continue to sell the country down the river to our contemptible rich mates. Merry Xmas, peasants.

    Can we have a more kick ass Opposition now, please? I’m getting desperate here.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Can we have a more kick ass Opposition now, please? I’m getting desperate here.

      Hear hear.

  13. Frank Macskasy 13

    ACC Minister Nick Smith promises us cheaper levies by opening up workplace insurance. Where have we heard promises like that before?

    Oh yes, Max Bradford, promising New Zealanders that electricity prices will come down as a result of National’s so-called “reforms” of the energy sector in 1998.

    As with so many of these “reforms”, the promises of cheaper services are based more on ideology and wishful thinking than reality. New Zealanders vote for a second term of National at their peril, knowing full well what semi-privatisation of accident compensation will result in.

    As Max Bradford said: “electricity prices will come down through competition”.

    • MRB 13.1

      And they did you prat. Look at the official statistics for power prices…..they fell from 1998 through 2002, then began increasing drastically when Hodgson created the disastorous Electricity Commission. After that power prices exploded by over 70 percent when Labour was in office…..get your facts right before you start blaming other people.

      • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1

        they fell from 1998 through 2002,

        No they didn’t – they stayed level and then they started going up. The question is what caused them to start going up? IMO, that was caused by the SOEs being forced to operate as profitable enterprise, effectively a cash cow for government, as well as being complicated by lack of investment (probably caused by having to give the government dividends) in new generation as demand climbed.

        Profit is a deadweight loss as proven by our telecommunications infrastructure.

  14. JonL 14

    “Can we have a more kick ass Opposition now, please? I’m getting desperate here.”

    please….pretty please…….damn your eyes grow a spine and be a proper Labour opposition party, Phil!

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