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Hospital benefits

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The Commonwealth Minister for Health, Senator Wade, announced in

Canberra to-day that he had approved, subject to two important conditions,

the new Hospital Benefit Tables submitted to him by the Hospitals Contribution

Fund of New South Wales.

The first condition is that the limitation of benefits to the

hospital charge for ordinary account contributors shall not apply to reduce

the combined Commonwealth and fund benefits below 80/- a day. The second

condition is that no waiting period, either ordinary or maternity, shall

apply to contributors who transfer from an old table to the corresponding new

table within two months of the introduction of the new tables, provided the

contributor has been a member of the Fund continuously for at least the

previous twelve months. The same principle· is to apply to ailments which

have come into existence during the contributor's membership of the table

from which he is transferring.

"I have imposed these conditions in the interests of contributors",

said Senator Wade. ·

"The condition allowing contributors of at least twelve months

standing to transfer to corresponding new tables within two months without a

waiting period for ordinary or maternity cases and without respect to ailments

occurring during membership of the previous table, will be applied in all

cases where new tables are introduced as a result of a general rise in hospital

charges. Without this condition, contributors through no fault of their own,

would be at a grave disadvantage whenever a State Government is obliged to

raise its hospital charges. In the generality of cases fund reserves are

adequate to provide for this condition. .

"Whilst, to avoid the need for loaded contributions, I favour

some limitation of benefits which would exceed the hospital charge in the

higher tables, I will not insist upon this being done. If other funds

submit proposed new benefit tables in which benefits are not limited to the

hospital charge and the tables are financially sound and equitable to

contributors and the reserves are adequate, they will be approved. However,

I will insist that where a limiting rule is proposed by a fund for ordinary

account contributors in New South Wales, it must not operate to reduce the

combined benefits to less than 80/- a day. For special account

contributors the combined benefits will, of course, continue to be limited

to the hospital charge".

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Senator Wade said he realised that as a result of these conditions

the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales might wish to revise

the contribution rates that it had already publicly announced.

"I think it is most unfortunate and unnecessarily confusing to

the public that some New South Wales hospitals funds have announced and even

advertised new tables of hospital benefits before they have been approved

by me", Senator Wade said. "As all registered funds know full, well, the

National Health Act specifically provides that no new table of benefits

can operate unless and until my approval as Minister for Health has been

given in accordance with the Act. I view these premature announcements most

seriously and I consider that the funds responsible for them have done a

dis-service to the National Health Scheme".

April 29, 1963