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Publicity campaign on new health insurance arrangements



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FROM THE COMMONWEALTH MINISTER FOR HEALTH THE HON. M. J. R. MACKELLAR

PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN ON NEW HEALTH INSURANCE ARRANGEMENTS

The Government's campaign to publicise the new health insurance arrangements being introduced on 1 September this year has moved into high gear.

The Minister for Health, the Hon. Michael MacKellar, said today that the printing of an explanatory pamphlet had begun and copies were now being distributed.

A total of 4.5 million copies.will be available through Australia Post Offices, doctors' surgeries, retail pharmacies, private hospitals and health insurance funds, as well as Commonwealth Department of Health and Social Security offices. .

Copies are already available at Department of Social Security offices. Supplies to other recipients will be delivered progressively.over the next 10 to 14 days.

Mr MacKellar said the pamphlet — entitled 'In Sickness and in Health — better value for your dollar' — explained the new arrangements in simple terms and provided clear advice on -what action (if any) each individual in the community needed to take.

The Minister said: "To assist people further the Government has decided that:-. a telephone 'hot-line' service should be set up to answer any queries from the public on the new

health policy. The service is to begin in all States on 3 August and operate until the end of September. For the price of a local call, people will be. able to telephone from anywhere in a State

and seek advice from Social Security and Health Department experts who will man the 'hot-line' between noon and 2 pm each week-day and from 6 pm to 9 pm each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. ·

. The Department of Social Security should arrange a series of briefings for welfare and other community groups and individuals who would in turn assist : their 'clients' to fully understand the new arrange­ ments. These groups would include welfare agencies, Aboriginal and migrant community leaders, hospital

administration staff and social workers, doctors' receptionists, health fund staff and Parliamentarians' staff. The Department of Social Security has prepared an audio-visual presentation to assist with the briefings

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In addition explanations of the new policy and its implications are being sent out by the Department of Social Security to:-pensioners holding a Pensioner Health Benefit card;

other pensioners;

the unemployed; and

mothers receiving family allowance cheques.

Special steps are being taken to advise ethnic groups of the new policy. Translations of a pamphlet summarising details of the new arrangements for people with Pensioner Health Benefits (PHB) cards, for those with pensions: or

benefits who do not have PHB cards, and for people In special need — that is migrants and refugees, people on unemployment or special benefit and people on low incomes are currently being prepared. The pamphlets will be available in Greek,

Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish and Vietnamese. They will be distributed to appropriate groups, through the Department of Social Security!s state offices. Details of the new policy are also to be broadcast on ethnic

radio stations. .

Mr MacKellar concluded by saying:- "The Government will be closely monitoring the operation of these programs. Our aim is to ensure that all people become fully aware of our new health policy. If it becomes apparent that additional measures are necessary we will undertake them."

Canberra 2 July, 1981

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