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Commonwealth committee of enquiry into health insurance

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c o m m o n w e a l t h COMMITTEE OF e n q u i r y into h e a l t h i n s u r a n c e

The Minister for-Health, Dr. Forbes, announced to-day

the membership of the committee the Government has appointed

to review the health insurance aspects of the National Health


■ The members are:

Chairman, Mr. Justice John Angus Nimmo, O.St.J., .

Deputy President of the Commonwealth Conciliation

and Arbitration Commission. ■

Sir Leslie Melville, formerly a member of the

Development Advisory Service of the International ·

Bank, Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National .

University from 1953 to 1960 and Chairman of the

Australian Tariff Board from 1960 to 1963, and '

Mr. Norman H. McIntosh, a member of the firm of '

Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Co., Chartered

Accountants. Mr. McIntosh previously acted as

cost consultant to the Decimal Currency Board.

. Dr. Forbes said the Government’s purpose in setting up

the enquiry was to secure an independent and impartial review

of the health insurance system after its 16 years operation.

The Government had undertaken to review the field of social

welfare with the object of assisting those most in need, while

at the same time not discouraging thrift, self-help and self­

reliance. It felt that an essential part of this programme was

to examine in depth the operations of the hospital and medical

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insurance scheme, under which Government and fund benefits

were provided. When the enquiry was completed the Government

would be in a position to.determine what further measures were

needed to improve the National Health Scheme as a whole. . ,

Dr. Forbes said the decision to hold the enquiry- did

not mean that appropriate action, to meet the special needs of ■

persons with chronic or long-term illness, which the Government

had already agreed to undertake, would be deferred until the

enquiry was completed. Although the report of the enquiry might

well, prompt some supplementary action in these fields, these

problems were already under close examination and would be dealt

with while the enquiry was proceeding.

The Committee of Enquiry had been asked to enquire into,

among other matters, the types and amounts of benefits provided

by the voluntary health insurance funds, the extent to which

benefits available provided coverage against the cost of medical

and hospital treatment, the rates of contributions payable by ■

contributors and their effect on the willingness of individuals

to insure, limitations applied in respect of benefit payments,

the methods used and the costs incurred in administration -and

management and the payment of benefits, the levels of reserves

held by funds, competition between funds in enlisting members

and the number of funds operating.

The Committee of Enquiry had been invited to make any

recommendations it thought appropriate in relation to the provision

of adequate protection against the cost of illness in the context

,of both a voluntary health insurance scheme and the obligations

at present accepted by the State Governments.

Dr. Forbes said that although, following the precedent

of other committees of a similar nature, the committee would meet-

in private, its report would, of course, be published.

It was expected that the committee would begin its

investigation in the near future. Its members would- determine

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what procedures they wished to follow.

However, it was intended that the committee would hear

witnesses and make such other investigations as it deemed

necessary to ^he preparation of an effective report and of

course any member of the public or organisation who desired

to submit evidence to the committee would be able to do so.

The committee should be regarded as conducting a piece

of highly important research with the best technical assistance

it could obtain from any source it desired.

Canberra. April 18, 1968.

Dept. No. 22 .

Commonwealth Committee of Enquiry into Health Insurance

Terms of Reference

(A) To enquire into -1. The types of and amounts of benefit provided by benefit tables organisations registered under Part VI of the National Health Act 1953-19o7> and the numbers of

such tables»

'2= The extent to which the fund benefits available provide coverage against the cost to contributors of medical and hospital treatment»

3» The rates of contributions payable by contributors to · ; registered organisations, having regard to the financial needs of the organisations and the effect of these contribution rates on the willingness of individuals to

insure® .

4® The limitations imposed by the rules'(including the Special Account rules) of registered organisations in respect of benefit payments.

5» The limitations imposed on individuals by. the rules of registered organisations on becoming a contributor to an organisation or transferring to a different benefit table in the same organisation.

6. The policies pursued by registered organisations in the application of their rules relating to the transfer of contributors to Special Accounts.

7o The methods used by registered organisations in paying benefits.

8® The methods used and costs incurred by registered organisations,, in collecting contributions including the rates of commissions and fees paid to collection agencies.

9. The expenses incurred in administration and management, including the payment of benefits.

10. The level of reserves maintained by registered organisations for hospital and medical insurance purposes.

11® The policies followed in the investment of such reserves and of other monies arising from contributions to hospital and medical benefit funds. ,

12®, The overall management, administration and financial operations of the registered organisations. .

13» The extent to which there is effective contributor represent­ ation in the administration and policy making of registered organisations.

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1^. The effects of activities pursued by registered organisations in competing for members.

15. The extent and form of competition that is desirable between registered organisations.

16 . Whether the interests of contributors would be better served if there were a greater or a lesser number of registered organisations. .

(B) To make such recommendations to the Minister in relation to the above matters as the Committee deems necessary.

(G:) To make such other recommendations to the Minister as the Committee deems necessary in relation to the provision of adequate financial protection against the cost of illness in the context of both a voluntary health insurance scheme, and

the obligations at present accepted by the State Governments.