What’s the issue?
Is the government moving to privatise ACC?
Yes. National has invented a 'crisis' around ACC so they can open it up to private sector insurance companies, just as they did in 1999.
What will privatisation mean?
Privatising ACC will hand accident cover over to Australian owned insurance companies, who will run it for a profit and try to minimise pay-outs. This will see injured Kiwis locked in disputes with their insurance firm over coverage.
Who stands to win?
Merrill Lynch estimated that insurance companies could win by up to $200 million a year if National privatised ACC. That comes out of the pocket of Kiwi workers and families. Yet no one wants ACC privatised apart from National and big insurance firms - even business representatives are cautioning against the move.
Who stands to lose?
National’s cuts to ACC, and moves to privatise it, will mean more worry for injured New Zealanders. Knowing ACC is there to back us up means Kiwis can get on with their lives. Sports groups, workers, schools, parents at home, older people and high risk industries like adventure tourism know if we get injured, ACC is there. This is at risk under National’s proposals.
What’s so good about ACC then?
ACC works well for all Kiwis – it has better cover, higher benefits and quicker access. A 2008 review by PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed that ACC is one of the best schemes in the world. Kiwi workers are back at work on the job earning their full wage much quicker than Australian workers. No one says that ACC can’t be improved, but privatising ACC won’t do this.
Is ACC in financial trouble?
No. The government wants us to think ACC has gone bust but it’s just not true. ACC’s income in 2010 was $4.6 billion and its expenses were $2.9 billion. In 2009, its income was $4.2 billion and its expenses were $3.1 billion. Costs have grown - because of increased coverage and general increases in medical costs - but ACC is still much cheaper. Kiwi workers pay half as much for our ACC cover than Australian workers do, and employers have it better too – levies are twice as high in Australia, Canada, and the USA than they are under our ACC scheme. Similar motor vehicle no-fault schemes have substantially higher levies, and our administration rates are lower too.
What’s the full funding/pay as you go debate about?
The government wants ACC to collect in the year of an accident, enough money to cover all future rehabilitation and compensation costs of that accident. This would be instead of ‘pay-as-you-go’ - collecting enough revenue to meet the current year’s costs only. No one expects the government to pay for all our children’s doctor’s bills or schooling costs for the rest of their lifetime just in one year, so why would we do it with ACC? We can take a pay-as-you go approach to ACC just like we do with health and education.
What is happening to entitlements?
National is already paring back entitlements, meaning thousands of injured New Zealanders are been unjustly refused compensation due to the government’s cost-cutting.