4Newcastle private health insurer NIB Holdings was established as the Newcastle Industrial Benefits Hospital Fund in 1952 by workers at the BHP steelworks. It subsequently demutualised and became the first private health insurer to list on the ASX. Having acquired Tower Medical Insurance and the medical insurance book of OnePath, both in New Zealand, it now provides coverage to more than 1 million people in Australia and New Zealand. It also provides life and travel insurance, as well as specialist insurance services to international students and workers in Australia.
NIB is adopting a variety of strategies for expansion. It benefits from an ageing population that needs more medical care and it is building a national profile for its domestic health insurance business. However, medical insurance is a highly regulated industry, and it is also seeking alternative paths to growth. Its other businesses have grown dramatically over the past three years and now generate more than 30% of revenues. The company believes this figure will eventually reach 50% as it continues to diversify. It views travel insurance as an activity with potential, and it is working to build this business. It is also considering a collaboration with a Chinese pharmaceuticals company to enter China’s health insurance market. In September 2017 NIB announced the $155.5 million acquisition of corporate group private health insurer GU Health and it has said it views the corporate health insurance sector as a new area for growth.