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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4861


Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Health and Ageing) (3:05 PM) —I would like to add to a question which Senator Bishop asked me earlier. Senator Bishop, obviously the Labor Party beat up an issue. In the changes to the lifetime cover, people who have been issued with a gold card by the Department of Veterans' Affairs will be recognised as having hospital cover for the purposes of lifetime cover. This means that, should a person lose their gold card, they will be deemed to be aged 30 for the purposes of lifetime health cover for a period of one year. If they apply for private health insurance after this period, they will be treated according to their actual age. The imputation was that this was put in place to in fact augment the gold card. That is not the case. Apparently it is for a handful of veterans who, for personal reasons and for particular circumstances, are given a gold card and if they then lose that gold card because their circumstances change—and I have been advised it is less than a handful a year—they will then be subjected to the lifetime cover penalty.


Senator Mark Bishop —It only changes when they die.


Senator PATTERSON —Senator Bishop screams out, `It only changes when they die.' I am indicating there is a handful of people who, in particular circumstances, are given a gold card and then their circumstances change—and apparently it is a handful. Here is a government who cares about individuals. We want to make sure that they are not then penalised by having to take out private health insurance at a higher level. But I am advised by the office of the Minister for Veterans' Affairs that it is a handful a year.