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The head of health insurer Nib says the company has a role to play in helping create a more sustainable national disability insurance scheme as NDIS Minister Bill Shorten pledges to target rorting and inefficiencies within the system.
In an address to the National Press Club on Tuesday, Shorten said the NDIS needed a reboot to achieve its potential, promising to lift staffing, introduce longer-term care plans and target fraud and ineffective providers.
Nib has been focused on growing its reach in the NDIS sector over the past year, Mark Fitzgibbon said. Credit: Michael Quelch
Nib managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said he agreed with Shorten that Australia had to focus on making the insurance scheme effective and sustainable and said the group’s early work in this space suggested there was room to streamline processes.
“We sense that a system designed more around the participants would be better,” Fitzgibbon said.
“For example – the person who designs your plan is different to the person who procures your services … there are a lot of hand-offs in the experience of participants, that we believe could be synthesised.”
Processes for acquiring and paying for services also lack efficiency, Fitzgibbon said, with no standardised way to confirm a participant in the scheme had received a service before a plan manager paid an invoice.
“There are definitely opportunities for technology to improve the participant experience and the provider experience,” he said.
ASX-listed Nib wants to expand its reach in the NDIS space and has acquired three plan managers over the past year, with plans for a fourth and the possibility of more acquisitions. The plan managers are third parties that work with NDIS clients to submit claims and pay providers for their services.
The company aimed to support 50,000 NDIS participants through plan management by 2025 and was also considering how it could become further involved in the program, including through support coordination, which helps clients set goals for with the NDIS and connect them to service providers.
Fitzgibbon said in the long term, he believed the company could help improve the experience of participants, the insurer raised more than $150 million late last year, and will use the proceeds to support its entry into the space.
“With a dose of humility – we like to think we’re part of the solution to a better more sustainable NDIS,” he said.
Nib’s ambition in NDIS comes as health insurers across the country expand their focus to include more preventative healthcare and wellness support for members.
Fitzgibbon told analysts at the group’s half-year results in February that Nib could help NDIS clients achieve their goals while making sure services were delivered effectively. This was “desperately needed, given the trajectory of spending,” he said.
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