Monday, 22 December 2008
at 9:39 am by Anna
As Mike Moreu's rather gruesome cartoon suggests, the government's announced increase in employees' ACC levies suggests they're setting out to make the Corporation unpopular - so we won't miss it when it's privatised. The government's use of urgency to pass a range of legislation - just before Xmas, making it harder for the public to make any organised objections - gives me the unsettling feeling that the rug could be pulled out from ACC (and God only knows what else) with very little warning.
Well, I like ACC. It may be an imperfect beast, like the husband who leaves his socks on the floor despite being asked a million times not to, but the prospect of being without its loyal and comforting presence is daunting.
Here's why I like ACC:
- It insures unpaid workers (eg, mums) who have little or no income and might be unable to afford private accident insurance.
- ACC has a brief to protect the public's health. Private insurers don't. ACC runs campaigns telling us how to avoid accidents and injuries. Private insurers don't care.
- Private providers have to create a profit for their shareholders. Profit is maximised by paying out on as few claims as possible.
- ACC doesn't suffer from that paradox of private insurers: competition encourages them to drop their premiums, but the less they collect in premiums the less they can afford to pay out in claims. Competition creates a worse insurance product, not a better one.
- The no-fault compensation offered by ACC replaces our 'right' to sue each other, which sadly includes the right to behave like litigious arses and line the pockets of lawyers.
In the last 25 or so years, privatisation has been justified in the name of enhanced consumer choice. But choice is only as valuable as the options you have to choose from. I'd rather put up with a state monopoly that more or less does the job than be free to choose between a wide range of shit private providers.