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Health Legislation Amendment (Private Health Insurance Reform) Bill 2003 [2004]

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2002-2003

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HEALTH LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM) BILL 2003

 

 

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

Amendments to be Moved on Behalf of the Government

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of the Minister for Health and Ageing,

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

 



 

Health Amendment Legislation (Private Health Insurance Reforms) Bill 2003

 

OUTLINE

 

The proposed Government amendments amend the Health Amendment Legislation (Private Health Insurance Reforms) Bill 2003 (the Bill) to enhance clarity and certainty in the operation of the reforms contained in the Bill.

 

The proposed amendments make it clear that health funds may not discriminate in conducting health insurance business having regard to a person’s religious beliefs.

 

The amendments also clarify that a health fund will not breach community rating principles:

 

·          If it sets different contribution rates or benefit levels having regard to the place of residence of the person; or

·          If it limits the quantum of benefits payable under ancillary health benefit tables by reference solely to the quantum of benefits already paid in respect of a specified period. 

 

These amendments recognise the current ability of health funds to set different rates and benefits having regard to the different cost of health services between the States and Territories, and to limit the quantum of benefits paid via ancillary health benefits having regard to the benefits already paid within a specified period.

 

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

 

These amendments have no financial impact.



 

NOTES ON AMENDMENTS

 

Amendment 1

 

1.              The purpose of this amendment to Item 3 of Schedule 1 to the Health Legislation Amendment (Private Health Insurance Reform) Bill 2003 (the Bill) is to include “religious belief” in the definition of “improper discrimination”.  Health funds may not discriminate against contributors (or those seeking to become contributors) in relation to access and the use of private health insurance products having regard to their religious beliefs.

 

Amendment 2

 

2.              The purpose of this amendment to Item 3 of Schedule 1 to the Bill is to clarify the definition of “improper discrimination” having regard to a person’s place of residence.  The amendment recognises the current ability of health funds to set different contribution rates and benefit levels where contributors or dependents have their place of residence in one State or Territory as distinct from another.

 

Amendment 3

 

3.              This amendment is consequential to proposed amendment 2.

 

Amendment 4

 

4.              The purpose of this amendment is to clarify the operation of community rating principles in relation to ancillary health benefits.  Health funds have not previously been prohibited from discriminating in relation to the quantum of benefits payable via ancillary health benefits by reference solely to the quantum of benefits already paid in respect of a specified period.  This amendment recognises and continues this situation while clarifying the operation of community rating in this circumstance.

 

Amendment 5

 

5.              This amendment is consequential to proposed amendment 2.  The amendment recognises the current ability of health funds to set different contribution rates and benefit levels where contributors or dependents have their place of residence in one State or Territory as distinct from another.

 

Amendment 6

 

6.              The purpose of this amendment is to correct an error in relation to the citation of a class of migrant visa.