Tuesday, October 13, 2009

ACC - the alternative welfare system

The only time in recent years that I have had cause to claim ACC was for a particularly severe case of occupational overuse syndrome (known as OOS - what used to be called RSI). I had been spending even more time than usual at the keyboard and had developed such severe pain in my back and shoulders that I couldn't sleep. The physiotherapist I saw pointed out that I could claim ACC for her costs but NOT if the injury had been done at work! If it had been done at the gym, fine, I could claim, but if it had been caused by my work, I couldn't!

This incident brought home to me what a perversion of the original intent of the scheme ACC has become. If I had made up a story about how I was under stress because of some imagined childhood trauma, then I would be covered. If I have a genuine (and genuinely debilitating, I can assure you) injury from work, I'm not.
It certainly bears no resemblence to the accident and workplace injury insurance scheme it was conceived to be.

The future liability for current claims is $24 billion. That is $6,000 for every man, women and child in New Zealand. I certainly have no claim on that $24 billion, neither does any member of my family. I have no friends or associates that are off work on ACC. So where are these claims coming from? Well, in the main they aren't coming from the working population of New Zealand. They're coming disproportionately from those who would otherwise receive welfare benefits. So John Key is right, for once. ACC has become an extension of the welfare state - the safety net below the safety net.

We have to start weaning people off this profligate scheme. It has to be fair and reasonable if it is to survive, and that means fair to those who pay the bill - the workers, employers and taxpayers of New Zealand. The right answer, of course, is to abolish and/or privatise it. Jim Bolger's government had the balls to do that. It remains to be seen whether this National Government has any at all.

No comments: