Low hanging fruit

“Sensitive claims sent to branch offices – ACC

Hundreds of sensitive ACC claims – those related to rape and other sexual abuse – have been transferred out of the corporation’s Sensitive Claims Unit to case managers in regional branch offices, the corporation has said.

Claimant advocacy groups are shocked by the move they say was made without consultation and in some cases without fully informing claimants.”

NZ Herald, Thursday May the 31, 2012

This story appeared in the Herald last week detailing the rumour suggested in my last blog.  The breach of the ACC’s own protocols about how sensitive claimants privacy are managed is deeply concerning, despite how the ACC might spin it.  But why have some 250 clients files been transferred outside of the Sensitive Claims Unit?

Well, it’s a bit of story.  But worth the telling.

Insurance trades in numbers.  One of those numbers is liabilities.  In the world of the ACC this is the anticipated future cost of current claims.  If someone is severely disabled and been on weekly compensation for longer than five years the odds are (according to actuaries, the profession that works all this stuff out) that they won’t work again and their “cost” to the ACC is calculated to retirement age.

It is these liabilities that have been targeted over the last three years to help decrease the ACC’s costs and improve it’s financial position. So simple right? To reduce costs, target the most expensive claims.  But here’s the stinger: the most expensive “liabilities” are also generally the most in need of care.

These “liabilities” are also people.

Social psychologists have shown when we are able to frame “the other” to ourselves  in some distant or degrading fashion with language, we are able to behave heartlessly.  This is particularly true if we are part of an large group that reinforces or encourages such behaviour.  Some might cynically suggest it’s how all beauracracies work.  This process certainly underpins all racism and predjudice.

So this is how the ACC’s Senior Actuary explained the Corporation’s attitude to long term claimants at a Brisbane actuarial conference in November 2011 (emphasis added):

“There’s also been a focus on long term weekly comp clients. So there’s been RIS initiative set up, which is Recovery Independence Services, so basically going through all the claims, the targeted claims that have been on the scheme of 2 1⁄2 years or more; reviewing each of those claims to ensure that they are still eligible for ACC under the legislation; And for the first year of that a lot of it was the ‘low hanging fruit’ they were able to get. And now they’re starting to get onto the ‘harder’ claims to remove -­‐ to ensure that they are appropriately serviced” (Wayne Anderson, Senior Actuary, ACC)  (click here for audio of that presentation)

One can only assume “low hanging fruit” is not a technical actuarial term.

The Recovering Independence Service is a group of case managers who are specifically trained to manage and target long term claims.  The full plan is outlined in this document obtained under the Official Information Act and passed onto me by a friend.  It is clear proof that the ACC’s intention all along has been to save money by getting long term claimants off claim.  It is most certainly the reason for the RIS’s existence:

“These actions include re-assigning current resources to selected high cost claims where there is the potential for quick wins through targeted intervention… …The potential therefore for the greatest reduction in the liability comes from achieving exits from the Scheme of those claims of 5+ years..” ACC: Executive Leadership Team Issues Paper, February 2009.

So here’s the real concern about this secret transfer of clients carried out by the ACC.  These 250 sensitive claimants have been moved to the group of case managers that are the sharp edge of a plan to manage clients off claim, or in actuarial terms, obtain “actuarial release.”

Since the changes to the Sensitive Claims treatment pathway in 2009 the ACC have consistently claimed these changes are not about costs. (See: Someone really should tell them).  This is further proof they have been lying from the start. (See also: The Swamp Creatures).

And in my opinion it’s now the ACC’s approach to clients that is the real liability.

Leave a Comment

  • Robyn June 8, 2012, 1:12 pm

    I have watched and listened to those wallies from ACC since the Bronwyn case first became public, and frankly, it came as no surprise. Personally, I have my own swag of meaningless apology letters that never meant, or will ever mean anything, I think the Corporation should shuffle the cards, throw them all up in the air and the ones that find themselves lying face up can retain their jobs. Ahhhh, but the problem is, we now know all the cards are two faced so we would be no better off. Seemingly it was probably a system such as this that got them their jobs in the first place. Maybe they need a good dose of therapy to sort them out, which they will need to fund themselves, of course. 🙂

  • Geoff June 8, 2012, 2:28 pm

    This article shows what happens when you fictionalise reports in order to illegally withhold covered claimants legislated entitlements: http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/7047421/ACC-faces-25-years-of-back-payments. This article captures the current DNA of New Zealands very own Frankenstein, more commonly referred to as ACC. It’s interesting to see how long these covert activities have been going on and how they impact real peoples ability to live a decent and dignified life free from persecution from Government policy and political interference. This person has spent a large proportion of his life attempting to obtain what was rightfully his a generation ago. He is not the only one; there are many, many, people being subjected to the same abusive treatment and most of these receive no justice because they don’t have the capability to fight this sort of Fraud.

    John Miller, preeminent Lawyer and ACC claimant advocate, wrote many years ago “The ACC is the only organisation involved in distributing compensation. There is no need for lawyers; nor are there the other expensive trappings of a compensation system based on showing fault or negligence in the courts.” In 2012, this is no longer the case; bona-fide claimants, that have the potential to be major ACC Liabilities for many years, are now having to take their cases through a catacomb of ACC bureaucracy aimed at debilitating, frustrating and dissuading the claimant from pursuing and obtaining their rightful and legislated entitlements. (Proof available)

    This Post of yours should raise alarm bells in all New Zealanders. If Officers are so obviously acting outside the law within ACC, why is nothing being done to disband or restructure the Organisation, as it is obviously no longer serving the needs of it’s owners and what is the purpose of the Corporations vast Assets, if they are not being used for the purpose they were collected. Victims need a process of reparation, yet at this moment they have none and the system designed to assist them to live a dignified life with little impediment to justice has become their nemesis and it is in fact operated by the very culture they were looking to escape from in the first place. What a mess.

  • Graham June 12, 2012, 9:21 pm

    Geoff: “…. it is obviously no longer serving the needs of it’s owners.”

    Wrong. It perfectly serves the needs of those who own it – the staff who work there, Parliament and the medical hacks, feeding at the trough. Listen to the recording!

    The story is typical of what ACC have been doing to long term claimants over the past three years. As Bronwyn Pullar says “They’re out of control – and they’ve got it wrong”.

    As an Advocate for many years, I can confirm this lawless behaviour and careless handling of private information, having countless examples already compiled. This behaviour is systemic and it’s outright Misfeasance in Public Office – s.107 of The Crimes Act 1961 and very often outright Fraud – s.240 Crimes Act. The NZ Police refuse to act upon direct complaints laid, with evidence chronicled for them, and sworn affidavits.

    But they will investigate, when ACC lays false and worthless complaints, just to create spin and diversion from their own wrongdoing. The citizens of New Zealand should be OUTRAGED at what is being done in their name. ACC ARE AT WAR WITH CLIENTS, not supporting and rehabilitating the injured. They are FOCUSSED ON DENIAL and not paying out on claims – the very opposite of what a good faith, ethical insurer should do.


    ACC is not your friend any more. It is not “there for you” any more. ACC has been hi-jacked by Parliament as a cash cow, NOT to serve injured citizens and the long term disabled, according to the no-fault social contract, but to serve fiscal interests and the personal financial gain of the staff who run it, as well as a vast array of medical specialists feeding from the trough, providing the shonkey medical reports ACC uses to tip people off the scheme and on to welfare.

    They don’t care how it’s done – they have made the process of appeal too complex, too litigious and too expensive for all but the most wealthy and determined claimants to succeed. The know they can WIN BY DEFAULT, 75{1b812f7ed7a77644fff58caf46676f6948311bf403a3d395b7a7f87010507f87} of the time, because they have TOTAL CONTROL of the appeal jurisdiction and process – THEY OWN IT and pay for it – the Review process and the Tribunals Division of the District Court. We have to spend megabucks, getting to the Supreme Court, to have Law that any college student could explain with a grounding in “Social Contract”.

    Case Managers are encouraged to use unlawful tactics, deceit and outright fraud, with aggressive and bullying threats of disentitlement. The successful ones are incentivised with $90,000 p.a. salaries and up to $90,000 p.a. can be earned in bonuses for meeting their target “exits”. The top performers are earning over $200,000 p.a.

    I have the data under the OIA, that some of those “Clinical Psychologists” and medical specialist hacks can earn 5 – 6 – 7.5 and over $1 million per annum, writing reports that give ACC the buzz-words they need to “actuarially release” (exit) long term claims.

    That’s PUBLIC information and I’ll release it if anyone wants to see the proof.

    Some Statistics from 2011 Annual Report:

    From 2009 to 2011 – Target Exits = $2 billion Achieved = $4.4 billion
    Claims Exited Target Exits = 1,100 Achieved = 1,543

    This amounts to average savings per “Actuarial Release” of $2,851,588, so a lot of young, naiive people with brain injuries have been dumped onto welfare, along with the many older Long Term claims which are less valuable – $2.85 million is about one 23 year “fully factored” claim life, so most of those exited have been younger than 40!!!! A claim with just 3 years to run, is worth only about $375,000 avg. Look at that profit and it’s easy to figure the answer.

    ”They are taking advantage of vulnerable and disabled New Zealanders and they are actively and systematically taking people off one-by-one and it’s like lambs to the slaughter every time they go to an assessor.” [Bronwyn Pullar; NZ Herald]
    ”Unless you have a lawyer or specialist medical opinion, ACC is no longer accessible to every day New Zealanders and that is wrong,” [Bronwyn Pullar; NZ Herald]

    Bronwyn Pullar is right, ACC is out of control. They have become a cankerous sore, rotting the moral and ethical fabric of society. Under John Judge, they have become NZ’s only fully sanctioned, native criminal class – Tūhoe have got nothing on this lot – they make Tama Iti look like he was organising a family picnic.

    Graham Willson BE MSc MBA
    principal | biologic medico-legal

    • Off the Couch: Kyle MacDonald June 16, 2012, 1:46 pm

      Thanks Graham. I absolutely agree.

      • Geoff June 17, 2012, 2:41 pm

        I also agree;

        I ask why either the SFO or the Police have not thought fit to get involved here. They must be seen to be impartial and not the Lap Dogs of Corporations and Government. We have seen this week where yet another Officer of the ACC has been convicted of Insider Fraud affecting the States money, yet claimants are left to languish while their money is misappropriated by ACC Evasion of the entitlements as legislated in the AC 2001 Act. How is this different from staff of the ACC fraudulently taking money from ACC coffers. ACC is legally accountable to the Act not to Government of the day policies. If Ministers of the Crown don’t see fit to act on behalf of their constituents with regard breaches of the law then who else do claimants have to turn to but the Police. The Police did not hesitate to take Puller to task, so now that she has been cleared why are they not holding Management at the ACC legally accountable.

    • Nancy Peterson June 18, 2012, 11:08 am

      I agreed and applauded everything you said up until you associated Tuhoe with a ‘native criminal class’. While I appreciate the information you provided and your defense of claimants, I am saddened that you have not considered that the info you have about Tuhoe and Tama Iti might be the result of government and police spin–just as with ACC.

  • Mystery June 16, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Do you think the Minister will read all these words?

    And understand them?

    And do something about it all?

    • Off the Couch: Kyle MacDonald June 16, 2012, 1:46 pm

      I sincerely hope so.

  • Unicorn June 17, 2012, 11:20 pm

    I think the Greens have just about got it right with this paper on how to rehabilitate ACC to its former self – before the corruption set in.


  • Unicorn June 18, 2012, 12:53 pm Reply
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