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Wednesday, 25 March 1987
Page: 1295

Senator COLSTON —My question is directed to the Minister for Veteran's Affairs. It relates to a decision to charge health insurance funds for veterans being treated in repatriation hospitals when the veterans happen to have private insurance. Will veterans and war widows be disadvantaged if they use their private health insurance; or, indeed, will veterans and war widows who have no health insurance be discriminated against?

Senator GIETZELT —It is true that in the last Budget the Government established a procedure whereby it is capable in certain circumstances of recovering from the private health insurance funds part of the cost-in some cases the whole of the cost-in respect of veterans who, despite acceptance of their disability by the Repatriation Commission, are privately insured. Taking out private cover is purely a voluntary act by veterans, for whom the Commonwealth has a responsibility to provide treatment. However, the Government has been put in a position where the private health insurance funds have not been paying their share of the costs involved in the treatment of veterans who have taken out such cover. So in fact we have been subsidising the health funds by providing at the Commonwealth's expense treatment which would otherwise have been the health funds' responsibility. It is purely a voluntary arrangement between veterans and the Commission, and it is therefore of no disadvantage to a war widow or an entitled veteran.