National’s ACC privatisation policy is another of its one page wonders (this time with three page backgrounder skimming the history of ACC and restating the policy in longer sentences with no more detail). In the policy documents and in the interviews by National and its allies, no evidence has been provided that privatised ACC will provide cheaper or better coverage or reduce accidents. There is just an ideological assumption that private sector is better. We shouldn’t base these decisions on ideology, we should do what works. The studies show ACC works well compared to other systems, there is no evidence from National that private companies will do better. Private companies need to make a profit, ultimately, that money has to come from Kiwis’ pockets. That’s only justified if better treatment and coverage will be available, there’s no evidence it will be.
The idea that businesses want privatisation so they can spend more on insurance to buy better coverage is laughable. Businesses are already permitted to by additional insurance. They want privatisation to decrease their premiums, not raise them.
There’s also a danger of employers refusing to allow claims to be made or trying to fob them off on ACC, rather than going through their private insurer. As with the 90 Day No Rights policy, it’s a charter for abuse by bad employers.
In Australia, one in ten claims wind up in a legal dispute compared to one in five hundred here – private insurers try to avoid payouts or pass the buck, hence there are more disputes. That’s bad for workers, and bad for the legal system because limited judicial resources are tied up needlessly. Insurers use their legal resources to avoid payouts, the taxpayer is left footing the bill for the Courts and the claims.
It’s simple, National can argue from it’s ideological position all it wants but the equation is clear:
Current Pool for claims = world-leading accident cover.
– minus $200 million in profits to insurers
– minus businesses taking lowest premiums
– minus higher admin costs from insurers (lawyers, marketing)
= smaller pool for claims = less coverage for workers