Health insurer Nib eyes NDIS opportunity

World News

Health insurer Nib has signalled an intention to help National Disability Insurance Scheme participants manage their plans as the company expands its focus to more holistic healthcare services.

The fund told investors while reporting its full-year financial results on Monday that it sees a big opportunity to connect “buyers and sellers” in the disability space and is working on a strategy to enter the sector.

NIB managing director Mark Fitzgibbon says the system for managing NDIS plans is fragmented.Credit:Louie Douvis

Nib will not focus on providing services to users, but on plan management and support coordination. Plan managers help NDIS participants monitor their funds and act as an intermediary to pay providers for their services.

Nib chief executive Mark Fitzgibbon said the system for managing plans was fragmented – about one third of participants rely on the government agency to plan and procure services, one third do it themselves and one third employ professional plan managers.

The company hopes more Australians will elect to use these external managers, and Nib has launched a specialist team to focus on the opportunity. The team will consider merger and acquisition activity and building new platforms.

“What we’re hoping we can do, just like with healthcare, is to apply data science and research to help participants understand how their needs may be met,” he said.

“We can help them organise the funding, help them find the best provider and help find their services as efficiently as possible.”

NDIS payments have been in the spotlight recently after revelations, including from an investigation by this masthead, that organised criminals have been able to rort the system. 

Besides this, management and payment of providers can be complicated and time-consuming and Nib has the experience to assist those on the scheme, Fitzgibbon said.

“We think we can make it all the more efficient through the technology that exists in the business… our core competency is the ability to contract with providers.”

The move comes as insurers, including Nib, work to expand their service focus, with the hope of attracting and retaining members for longer.

For Nib, this has included investment in healthcare data platform Honeysuckle Health, as well as a freemium membership offer called GreenPass, which gives younger members access to online health checks and health perks without having to take out a policy.

The company recorded its best membership growth numbers in seven years in the fourth quarter and added 20,000 members in 2022, representing growth of 3.2 per cent.

The insurer’s net profit dropped 16.6 per cent for the year to $133.8 million, but this was driven largely by investment losses.

Shares advanced throughout Monday’s session and were 7.4 per cent higher to $7.81 just after 2pm.

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