nib (ASX:NHF) receives approval for health insurance plans

Health insurer nib (ASX: NHF) and Honeysuckle Health have been given authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the ACCC) to form and operate a health services buying group.

Honeysuckle Health provides health analytics and management programs. The buying group is aimed to negotiate and manage contracts with healthcare providers, including medical practitioners and hospitals, on behalf of nib and other private health insurers and payers who join the group. 

From October last year, nib appointed Honeysuckle to act as its agent to provide contracting, data analytics, procurement and administration services in relation to nib’s contracts with healthcare providers. In May this year, the ACCC issued a draft determination proposing to authorise this buying group.

Under its current program, nib enters into agreements with medical specialists to not charge customers out-of-pocket costs for medical services and treatment. The program currently is only available for knee and hip replacements.

The authorisation was granted for five years with a condition that major insurers Medibank, Bupa, HCF and HBF in Western Australia are not allowed to join.

“The arrangement is likely to have a public benefit by increasing competition between health services buying groups. It is also likely to provide more consumers with greater access to medical procedures which attract no out of pocket expenses,” said ACCC Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway. 

Shares in nib Holdings (ASX:NHF) are trading 0.7 per cent higher at $6.80.