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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3373

Mr CUNNINGHAM —Will the Minister for Health inform the House of progress made in relation to the introduction of Medicare? Will he also inform the House of arrangements for insurance cover for private hospitals?

Dr BLEWETT —In responding to the question from the honourable member for McMillan I can say only that the Government is much heartened by the quite splendid response we have had to the Medicare enrolment campaign. Some two and a half million Australians, mostly family applicants, have already made Medicare applications to the Health Insurance Commission. Of those two and a half million applicants, some one and a half million have been already processed and cards supplied. About one million applications are being processed at this time. In addition, some 900,000 cards have been issued directly to Medibank Private members and another 800,000 cards have been distributed directly to social security beneficiaries. This means that well over half the family units in this country are now enrolled in Medicare. I think that is some judgment the Australian people have made about the Medicare campaign.

In relation to the other aspects of the question asked by the honourable member for McMillan, let me say that within the next 10 days the private insurance companies will be issuing their contribution rates for private hospital insurance. As I understand it, there are likely to be at least two or three rates-a basic rate and rates for various other levels of private hospital cover. We have also completed the initial categorisation of all private hospitals. Again, within the next 10 days all private hospitals will be informed of that categorisation.