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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

The Government has already introduced a scheme for the provision of assistance to families on low incomes in obtaining health insurance cover. This scheme, which is based on the same general principles as those underlying recommendation 20 by the Nimmo Committee, also extends to persons in receipt of unemployment and sickness benefits and to newly arrived migrants. In addition to the announced proposal that this scheme be up-dated in the light of recent changes in the wage structure, it has been decided to further liberalise these arrangements by providing subsidies on a graduated basis to families whose incomes exceed $42.50 a week.

The Government will therefore introduce legislation during the current session, under which families whose incomes exceed $42.50 a week but do not exceed $45.50 a week, will pay only one-third of the normal health insurance contribution rate for the new medical benefits coverage and for coverage against public ward charges in public hospitals. Families with incomes in excess of$45.50 but not exceeding $48.50 will meet two-thirds of the usual contribution rate for this coverage. It is estimated that this liberalisation of the subsidy scheme will cost an additional $1.6m per year for the medical coverage and an additional$1. 4m per year for hospital coverage. These new arrangements will do a great deal to reduce the effect of the proposed increased medical benefits contribution rates on persons less able to meet them.

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