New website upgrades! What’s new

NDIS Market Data Deep Dive

The NDIA recently released a truckload of great NDIS market data. Sara has sifted through it to pull out the key insights for providers

By Sara Gingold

Updated 15 Apr 20245 Oct 2020

If you are reading this, chances are your professional or personal life is somewhat dependent on the health of the NDIS market. A terrifying thought, I know. But despite the NDIS being the oxygen we breathe, it is quite rare for us to get any detailed data on the state of the market. Which is why when we do, it is lowkey exciting.

The NDIA recently released three more data deep dive reports, including one on the NDIS’s market performance. These reports deep dive into particular issues in the NDIS, providing raw data and analysis. The first market report was released last year, and it has been updated every six months ever since. This report uses data as of 30 June 2020.

PAYMENT BY SUPPORT CATEGORY

The table below shows the division of NDIS funds between the different support categories. Unsurprisingly, nearly 80% of funding goes to Core Supports, with ‘Core – Daily Activities’ at 55.9% and ‘Core – Community’ at 17.2%. It’s also notable how relatively few NDIS dollars go towards transport funding (3.7%), given the many bloody hours we have all been forced to spend thinking about transport and how much money the NDIA has thrown into fighting transport decisions on appeal.

However, it is worth noting that these statistics are based on payments made, not how much funding has been put into plans for each category. We know that many participants are finding it difficult to spend their allied health funding due to wait lists and shortages of services, particularly now during the pandemic. If participants were able to fully utilise their plans, these statistics might look quite different.

 

MARKET INDICATORS

The NDIA has three indicators for the health of the NDIS market:

  1. Plan utilisation – this is the measurement of the percentage of their NDIS funds that people are actually using. Nationally, it sits at 70%. Arguably, this is the most important indicator because if people are unable to spend their NDIS dollars, that does not reflect well for the health of the market.
  2. Provider concentration – this is the proportion of payments that go to the 10 biggest providers. Nationally, 60% of payments go to 10 providers. However, there are some regions where over 85% of payments go to 10 providers.
  3. Choice and control – this indicator is determined by two statistics: the percentage of participants who say they get to choose who supports them (51%) and the percentage of participants who say the NDIS has helped them with choice and control (71%). If you ask me, this is the weakest indicator, as it is subjective as hell. Two participants might both answer yes when one is choosing between two providers and the other is choosing from 50. In practice, these two people do not have the same level of choice and control. Regardless, it is still concerning that 49% of participants feel they don’t have a choice in who supports them.

Despite my crude ranking of each of the indicators, what is interesting is that they all seem to paint a similar picture. How regions perform under any of these indicators is largely determined by the annual NDIS budget in that area. The annual NDIS budget is basically what you get when you add up all the plans in a particular area together to get one big number. Regions with smaller numbers of NDIS participants will have lower annual budgets. Overall, places with lower annual budgets had:

  • lower plan utilisation
  • higher market concentration
  • lower reported levels of choice and control 

Whereas regions with higher annual NDIS budgets had:

  • higher plan utilisation
  • lower market concentration
  • higher reported levels of choice and control

Geographically, regions where the market seems to be struggling are mostly in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia. This is probably due to the large number of regional or remote areas in these states.

Nine districts have been labelled ‘hot spots’. These are regions that are scoring badly in one or more of the indicators. They are:

  • Central North Metro (WA)
  • Great Southern (WA)
  • Midwest-Gascoyne (WA)
  • South East Metro (WA)
  • Barkly (NT)
  • East Arnhem (NT)
  • Far North (SA)
  • Katherine (NT)
  • Limestone Coast (SA)

Interestingly, all of these districts are classified as remote (Monash Modified Model 5-7), except for Central North Metro (WA) and South East Metro (WA), which are urban areas. However, these districts only began transitioning to the national NDIS in July 2019. Limestone Coast’s classification as MMM5 also doesn’t allow providers in the region to charge higher rates under the Price Guide.

 

PROVIDER SENTIMENTS

The NDIA also released the results of their Provider Sentiment and Satisfaction Survey, which represents an opportunity for providers to give the Agency feedback on how they think the market is doing. In total, 3,808 providers – 23% of all active providers and 18% of all inactive providers – responded to the survey. However, the survey did open in September 2019, and you’ve probably noticed that a lot has happened since then in both the economy and the world. So next year’s results are likely to look significantly different.

Nevertheless, the results are quite interesting. Forty-seven percent of providers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I am optimistic about the health of the NDIS market’. This was a slight increase from previous quarters. But in a twist that will surprise nobody, providers are not very happy with the communications they receive from the NDIA. Only 29% of providers believe they receive a timely response to queries, and only 48% believe information on the NDIA’s website is reliable. Ouch. Interestingly, analysis of the data showed that the greater the percentage of providers’ businesses that are delivering disability support, the more unlikely they are to be satisfied with communication.

The Price Guide was another cause for concern. A few providers raised issues about the price limits, but most of the comments centred around the fact that the Price Guide is ‘complex, cumbersome and difficult to navigate’. Providers also did not love the fact that it changes with a moment’s notice, creating an increased administrative burden.

If you want more data, there is a truckload on the website. There is also market data at both the service district and local government area (LGA) levels, which is pretty exciting – if you get excited about that sort of thing. Stay tuned for our coverage of the other deep dive reports.

Authors

Sara Gingold

Explore DSC

Subscribe to the newsletter you’ll actually want to read

Learn from the humans obsessed with Australia’s NDIS. 50,000 readers strong.

Explore DSC Learning