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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 60

(Question No. 4644)


Dr Klugman asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 22 September 1986:

(1) What is the estimated annual costs per pensioner of (a) hospital services, (b) medical services, (c) pharmaceutical services, (d) nursing home subsidies and (e) administrative and other costs provided to age pensioners in Australia aged (i) 60-65, (ii) 66-70, (iii) 71-75 and (iv) over 76 years.

(2) Are costs reduced in the case of pensioners living overseas.


Dr Blewett —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The data sources generally do not enable the attribution of health costs to age pensioners, but most allow costs to be attributed to persons of age pension age (65 and over for men, 60 and over for women). I have therefore provided data for persons of age pension age.

Approximately two thirds of persons of age pension age receive an age pension.

POPULATION OF AGE PENSION AGE AND AGE PENSIONERS 30 JUNE 1986

Sex/Age Groups

Total Resident

Population (a)

('000)

Age Pensioners (b)

Number

('000)

Proportion of

Population

Males 65+...

699.9

407.4

0.58

Females 60+...

1330.1

905.3

0.68

Total...

2030.0

1312.7

0.65

(a) Based on projections by the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs

(b) Excluding pensioners paid overseas.

(1) Estimated Annual Costs per Pensioner

(a) Hospital Services: Under the Medicare agreements with the States, the Commonwealth provides funding for public hospitals. No data on the cost of providing hospital services to pensioners are collected by the Commonwealth.

Some information on Commonwealth payments for private hospital patients of age pension age (but not necessarily pensioners) is available from the Private Hospital Bed-day Subsidy Scheme. Under this scheme, which ceased from 1 October 1986, the Commonwealth paid private hospitals a subsidy of $20, $30 or $40 a day, depending on the category of hospital, for each patient occupying a bed. Details of bed day subsidy payments in 1985/86 are as follows:

PRIVATE HOSPITAL PATIENTS AND COMMONWEALTH SUBSIDY PAYMENTS,

AUSTRALIA 1985/86

Age Group

Number of Episodes of Patients of Age Pension Age

('000)

Males

Females

Subsidy Payments

($m)

Males

Females

60-64...

n.a.

21.1

n.a.

5.1

65-69...

18.7

19.6

4.5

5.5

70-74...

16.8

20.3

4.5

6.6

75+...

26.1

49.1

9.4

24.0

Total...

61.6

110.2

18.5

41.3

(b) Medical Services: Information on medical services for which a Medicare benefit has been paid for persons of age pension age (but not necessarily pensioners) is set out below. The data excludes services rendered to Medicare patients by salaried or sessional practitioners in public hospitals and services relating to compensation claims.

NUMBER OF SERVICES AND MEDICARE BENEFIT PAID, AUSTRALIA 1985/86

Age Group

Males

Services

Rendered

('000)

Benefits

Paid

('000)

Females

Services

Rendered

('000)

Benefits

Paid

('000)

60-64...

n.a.

n.a.

4,315

93,331

65-69...

2,530

59,894

4,058

86,321

70-74...

2,536

57,788

4,012

83,805

75+...

3,644

79,485

7,369

148,775

Total...

8,711

197,167

19,754

412,232

(c) Pharmaceutical Services: During 1985/86 the annual cost of providing pharmaceutical benefits under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme was $175.40 per eligible pensioner.

Eligible pensioners are categorised as holders of Pensioner Health Benefits cards or Health Benefits cards and their dependents. Included are age, widows, invalid and supporting parent pensioners as well as sickness beneficiaries. Details of age groupings are not available.

(d) Nursing Home Subsidies: The Commonwealth provides assistance to nursing homes and patients under the National Health Act and the Nursing Homes Assistance Act. Total recurrent outlays for 1985/86 were $1010 million of which an estimated $915 million was attributable to residents of age pension age. Estimates of the average number of residents of age pension age and subsidies paid for 1985/86 are set out below.

NURSING HOME RESIDENTS AND COMMONWEALTH SUBSIDIES PAID, AUSTRALIA 1985/86

Age group

Estimated Average No. of Residents of Age Pension Age

('000)

Males

Females

Estimated Subsidies

($m)

Males

Females

60-64...

n.a.

1.0

n.a.

14.5

65-69...

1.5

1.8

21.6

25.1

70-74...

2.5

3.6

34.5

50.9

75+...

11.8

43.3

164.9

603.6

Total...

15.8

49.8

220.9

694.1

(e) Administrative and other Costs: Holders of Pensioner Health Benefits (PHB) cards are entitled to various concessions for services provided by Commonwealth, State and local Government agencies. My Department has no information available on the costs of providing such concessions or other administrative costs related to age pensioners.

(2) Pensioners Living Overseas

Medical Services: Pensioners and any other Australian citizens living overseas are eligible for Medicare (medical only) benefits provided they are considered to be Australian residents. The definition of `Australian resident' for Medicare purposes includes those persons who are overseas for up to two years. In certain circumstances, this period can be extended by one year, making a total of three years, but generally, someone who stays outside Australia for more than two years is not regarded as an Australian resident unless there is clear evidence of intention to return. A pensioner who does not satisfy the Australian resident criteria is not eligible for Medicare benefits.

Pharmaceutical Services: Pharmaceutical benefits are only available to persons (including pensioners) receiving medical treatment in Australia.

Pension Payments: Of the 1,324,600 persons receiving age pensions at 30 June 1986, 11,900 reside overseas. The same eligibility criteria apply to age pensioners living overseas as in Australia.