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Thursday, 5 December 1974

Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

The Liberal and Country Parties believe in a comprehensive hospital and medical insurance scheme which will enable the maximum number of people to be insured while maintaining the right of choice.

Approximately 92 per cent of the Australian people are now covered by health insurance. These people should be left undisturbed.

We are concerned about the 8 per cent who are not covered for health insurance- particularly those who cannot themselves bear the financial cost of their own health care. We aim to ensure that all in the community have available to them the full range of health care services, regardless of their means. For this aim to be administratively practicable and equitable, health insurance cover must be extended. Therefore, the taxation mechanism will be used to attract as many as possible of the 8 per cent not now covered by health insurance in the following way:

In addition to the item which allows for a health insurance premium deduction, there will be an item on the taxation return form applying to people who do not already hold hospital or medical insurance, or who are covered in some other way. This item will enable individuals to authorise the Taxation Commissioner to collect their subscriptions for basic hospital and medical insurance cover, by making an adjustment to the taxation return. People will be asked to nominate a hospital and medical benefits fund of their choice from an appropriate list.

If they do not nominate a fund, they will be automatically enrolled in a fund and a subscription collected as above, unless they indicate by a letter attached to the return that they do not wish to become a subscriber to any health insurance fund.

The Department of Social Security will apportion the total amounts of premiums so collected by the Taxation Commissioner to the private funds by a system of public tender.

The rate deducted via the taxation mechanism will be for medical benefits and public (standard) ward accommodation.

Low Income Earners

The present health scheme offers a subsidy towards the cost of health insurance premiums for families on low incomes, social security beneficiaries receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefits and newly-arrived migrants.

The Liberal and Country Parties will introduce a more equitable sliding scale system of supplementary contributions as a negative component of taxation income. This contribution would be applied to taxable income instead of gross income and with income eligibility limits tied to changes in average weekly earnings, reviewed annually.

Any taxpayer whose taxable income is below the poverty line would pay nothing and the government would automatically contribute the full extent of his premium. As the levels of taxable income increase, government contributions would decrease on a scale percentage basis.

Persons whose taxable income make them eligible for the negative tax contribution and who have already paid premiums to a private health fund will be given a rebate for the excess amount they have paid.

The Liberal and Country Parties will ensure that no person need now be uncovered for economic reasons.

Pensioner Medical Services

Pensioners are entitled to the same range, quality and convenience of health care as other members of the community. Pensioners will be eligible for subsidised health insurance in the same way as other income earners. All pensioners at present entitled to belong to the Pensioner Medical Service will have all their health insurance premiums, and the 'patient moiety', paid by the government.

Doctors will be paid the full consultation fee as determined by the Medical Fees Tribunal. In other words, pensioners will be treated in precisely the same way as other members of the community.

Such arrangements will remove a disadvantage suffered by pensioner patients in the past. Hitherto, when a doctor prescribed pathological x-ray or other services, a pensioner patient had to attend the outpatient clinic of a public hospital, whereas non-pensioner patients attended the appropriate clinic most convenient for them. Pensioner patients under the Liberal and Country Parties' scheme would be able to attend the clinic most convenient to them.

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