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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1496


Mr Kennedy asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Can he state the number of people in each State and Territory in. each of the categories of (a) unemployed, (b) migrants, (c) sickness beneficiaries, (d) other eligible beneficiaries and (e) families with weekly incomes of (i) below $42.50, (ii) between $52.45 and $45.50 and (iii) between $45.50 and $48.50, who have applied for subsidised health insurance by registering with (A) the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and (B) a hospital and medical benefits society since the introduction of the subsidised medical services scheme?

(2)   Can he say what percentage of those eligible for this assistance in each of the categories mentioned have applied for assistance in each State and Territory.


Dr Forbes - The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

The information sought by the honourable member is not available in the manner requested. Statistics in relation to the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme are compiled in respect of the following groups: (0 low income families;

(ii)   unemployed sickness and special beneficiaries under the Social Services Act; and

(iii)   migrants.

In respect of low income families, there was only one category of beneficiary when the Scheme commenced operation on 1st January 1970, viz., families whose gross weekly income did not exceed $39 per week, a figure which at that time approximated the average minimum weekly wage payable under Commonwealth awards. As from 1st July 1970, the National Health Act was amended by extending this assistance, on a graduated scale, to low income families whose gross weekly income did not exceed $48.50. Eligible families were divided into three categories, viz.. Class A, Class B, and Class C.

These income limits for eligibility under the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme have been adjusted from time to time, and at present the eligibility limits applying to each class of low income beneficiary are as follows:

Class A - gross weekly family income not exceeding $46.50 or, if the applicant is of pensionable age means as assessed not exceeding $2,418;

Class B - gross weekly family income not exceeding $49.50 or, if the applicant is of pensionable age, means as assessed not exceeding $2,574;

Class C - gross weekly family income not exceeding $52.50 or, if the applicant is of pensionable age, means as assessed not exceeding $2,730.

It is only necessary for low income families to make application to the Department of Social Services for assessment of their eligibility for assistance. Unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries automatically become eligible for assistance under the Scheme when their entitlement for the respective Social Service benefit has been granted.

In respect of migrants, it is not necessary for separate application for assistance to be made. By joining a health insurance fund and verifying their first date of entry into Australia, migrants are eligible for assistance with medical and/or hospital expenses incurred in the first two months from the date of entry.

In relation to low income beneficiaries, the Department of Social Services has advised that information is not available as to the number of persons who have applied for assistance. The figures below relate to the number of applications which have actually been approved by that Department.

 

The following figures show the number of beneficiaries who have utilised their assistance under the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme by registering with a medical and/or hospital insur ance organisation. It is not possible to separate unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries and a total figure has been included in respect of these beneficiaries.

 

(2)   As indicated previously unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries are automatically entitled to assistance under the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme when granted the respective social service benefit. Migrants need only join a fund to be eligible for assistance with medical and hospital expenses incurred within their first two months in Australia.

Based on the figures in the foregoing tables, the following information, for the period 1st January 1970 to 31st December 1970 relates to the percentage of eligible persons in the above categories who have taken advantage of the assistance available by approaching a health insurance fund.

 

As statistics are not maintained in relation to the number of applications by low income families to the Department of Social Services, the information requested by the honourable member in relation to this category of beneficiary is not available. However, on the basis of the number of low income families approved for assistance the following data indicates the percentage of these beneficiaries who have approached a health insurance fund:







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