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Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Page: 192

Private Health Insurance

(Question No. 694)


Mr Christensen asked the Minister for Health and Ageing, in writing, on 31 October 2011:

Does she have the power to intervene in matters involving a private health insurance policy holder and a private health insurer; if so, in what circumstances?


Ms Roxon: The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Minister has a number of powers that are set out in Part 5-2 - General enforcement methods, of the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 (the Act), that enables the Minister to intervene in a matter involving a private health insurance policy holder and a private health insurer that involves the insurer's compliance with its enforceable obligations.

Section 185-1 of the Act sets out that the Minister has the power to find out whether a private health insurer is complying with its enforceable obligations and to encourage or compel an insurer to comply with those obligations. The Minister can:

(a) set performance indicators for insurers;

(b) seek explanations from the insurers;

(c) investigate insurers;

(d) obtain enforceable obligations from insurers;

(e) direct insurers to do particular things;

(f) seek remedies in the Federal Court;

(g) revoke an insurer's entitlement to offer tax rebates as premium reductions.

Section 185-5 of the Act sets out the enforceable obligations an insurer must comply with under the Act. Pertinent to a matter that may involve a private health insurance policy holder and a private health insurer, these are:

(a) a provision of the Act;

(b) a provision of any Private Health Insurance Rules made under section 333-20 or 333-25 of the Act;

(c) a direction given to a private health insurer under the Act.