Before I start talking policy over the next couple of weeks before the election, it's worth disclosing that I have become a shareholder again for the first time since May 2005, albeit without really trying and against my will.
Following the demutualisation of NIB Health Funds I was allocated shares as a policy-holder. These shares were issued on 1 October 2007, and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange on 5 November 2007 at an issue price of 85c. At close of trading today they were trading at $1.26.
In a vote of eligible policyholders in July, approximately 95% of voters approved the demutualisation of NIB. I was among the five per cent who opposed it. I strongly believe that health insurance funds should be run solely for the benefit of the policyholders, and not to generate profit for its shareholders.
Nonetheless, I accept the democratic decision, and will invest wisely. And I'll vote at AGMs according to my conscience.
NIB is the first health fund in Australia to convert to a publicly-listed company. They made the move in reaction to the Howard Government's decision to privatise the nationally-owned Medibank Private. Ironically, the Libs have put the Medibank privatisation in the too-hard basket till after the election. Labor have said that they will shelve the plan. Still, NIB will not being the last health fund to go for-profit.