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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17284

Mr ADAMS (2:34 PM) —Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is good to get your call in a legitimate way. I have a question for the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing. Could the minister inform the House what the government is doing about the many private health insurers who are failing to keep their customers notified of reductions to their schedule benefits? Is the minister aware that many Australians—including a woman in my electorate—who have taken out private health insurance are now finding that they are no longer covered for a stay in a private hospital? Why are they not informed of the schedule changes as they happen? Could the minister advise me how I should reply to the many constituents who ask me why the linchpin of the government's health insurance strategy for middle-income families—private health insurance—is totally failing to meet their needs?

Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Ageing) —I thank the honourable member for Lyons for his question about private health insurance. I understand his concern about this issue, because more than 25,000 of his constituents have private health insurance. The reason they have private health insurance is that this government has put into place measures to encourage people to take out private health insurance. The 30 per cent rebate and the lifetime health cover measures mean that those constituents in the electorate of the member for Lyons have the opportunity of having private health insurance in a way which was never available when the Labor Party was in government.

This is something which I understand the member for Lyons is keenly interested in. If there is any deficiency in relation to the notification which the honourable member has addressed, I will have it looked into and get back to him.