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Medibank private and the health insurance commission to gain focus and vigour following government changes

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Australia's Commonwealth Media Release - Dr Wooldridg(wysiwyg://276/ 1697.htm

Media Release Dr Michael Wooldridge

MW 116/97 22 October, 1997


Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, welcomed the passage of legislation this morning to enable the separation of Medibank Private from the Health Insurance Commission (HIC), leading to new opportunites for both organisations.

Medibank Private is the largest health insurer in Australia with close to two million customers. The Health Insurance Commission administers Government programs such as Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register.

"Separation was recommended by the Productivity Commission report into private health insurance but has been under consideration by the HIC and Medibank Private for some time in order to give a sharper focus to quite separate activities," Dr Wooldridge said.

"Effectively we are splitting a commercially-oriented government business enterprise out o f an administrative agency that collects and processes data and manages a raft o f benefit payments.

"The HIC will now be free to develop new capabilities in information collection and analysis to support policy processes and improve its payments and processing systems, especially as we move increasingly towards electronic commerce.

"Medibank Private will be free to chart its own destiny and develop innovative products and services as Australia's largest health insurer in an intensely competitive market," he said.

The legislation provides for Medibank Private to be separated from the Health Insurance Commission, and be retained in direct Government ownership. Instead o f one board and one administration making joint decisions, each organisation will have a dedicated board and administration.

Services to customers will be maintained as both the HIC and Medibank Private focus on innovative and effective service methods and new products. For example, the Health Insurance Commission has recently installed more than 100 new service facilities in pharmacies in rural communities. Rural customers now have better access to Medicare facilities than ever before.

"This is an exciting time and I am confident that the Health Insurance Commission and Medibank Private will both benefit from these changes," Dr Wooldridge said.

Media Contact:

Bill Royce, Dr Wooldridge's office (02) 6277 7220

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