Business

Buoyant Nib bracing for weaker second half

Health insurer NiB has posted a 5 per cent jump in first-half profit to $74.5 million. (AAP)

Health insurer Nib has posted a 5 per cent jump in first-half profit to $74.5 million, though it expects seasonal second-half headwinds.

Nib has lifted its interim dividend and underlying guidance after posting a 5 per cent jump in first-half profit to $74.5 million, but the health insurer expects a weaker second half in the face of seasonal headwinds and political frustrations.

Nib's total underlying revenue for the six months to December 31 rose by 9 per cent - or $104.1 million - to $1.21 billion.

Premium revenue was up 11.7 per cent to $1.18 billion, a result managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said defied an environment of tighter discretionary spending.

Mr Fitzgibbon also said on Monday politicians and the public needed to "better appreciate" that private health insurance "must play a more significant role in our healthcare system" and be allowed to cover members outside a hospital setting.

"It is especially frustrating that we have members incurring large out-of-pocket expenses when they see a doctor outside a hospital which we just can't help the member with," he said.

"That's because of antiquated regulations that limit private health insurers to only paying for doctors inside a hospital."

Nib said it expects unfavourable claims seasonality to affect second half FY19 earnings, with the first half also boosted by a claims provision release within Australian Residents Health Insurance.

Mr Fitzgibbon said private health insurance was facing a fascinating period ahead, especially with a federal election imminent.

"Unavoidably, Australia needs more private sector involvement and investment in our healthcare system especially if we want to deliver throughout the community amazing technologies that are emerging globally," he said.

Full year underlying operating profit guidance is now expected to be at least $195 million, previously at least $190 million.

Statutory operating profit is expected to be least $178 million, previously at least $168 million.

Nib will pay an interim dividend of 10 cents per share, fully franked, up from 9 cents a year ago.

Shares in Nib were trading 0.17 per cent higher at $5.83 at 1015 AEDT on Monday.

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