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Friday, 12 June 1970

Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   What means test is applied for outpatient services at the Canberra Hospital.

(2)   When was this means test adopted and how has it been varied since its adoption.

(3)   Can he say what means tests are applied to outpatient services in hospitals conducted by each State Government.

Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The Canberra Hospital provides outpatient treatment without charge to a person, or dependant of a person who is normally resident in the Australian Capital Territory and who satisfies the Board that the balance of the person's gross income remaining after allowable deductions have been made is equal to or less than the wage as prescribed for a 'Labourer not otherwise classified' as employed under the Miscellaneous Workers (ACT) Award 1968.

Allowable deductions are:

(a)   Dependant allowance - the amount(s) specified in sub-section (2) of section 82b of the Income Tax Assessment. Act 1936-1969, as set out below:


(b)   House rent or repayment - the amount to be actual and not exceeding the average rent for government owned rental dwellings as advised by the Australian Capital Territory Assistant Secretary (Housing) Depart- ment of the Interior.

The Hospital Board has the authority to remit or vary charges in special circumstances.

(2)   The present means test was adopted on 18th September 1969 and no variation has been made since its adoption.

(3)   The following information concerning the means test applicable to outpatient services in State Government hospitals has been furnished by the respective State Hospital authorities:

New South Wales - The means test for outpatient services is the same basis as that applicable to public ward inpatient accommodation, namely: Gross income less an amount of $4.00 for adult dependant (wife, mother if dependant), $3.00 for first child, $2.00 for each other child and less rental repayments.

Where the net income after those deductions are made does not reach the current basic wage, the patient qualifies for public ward accommodation. Charges may be varied in cases of hardship.

No means test is applied for emergency outpatient treatment in casualty cases. If further outpatient medical treatment is required, the patient is means tested.

Victoria - The application of a means test based on income rests with each individual hospital. The patient's income is assessed against a sliding scale of charges, with a maximum charge of $2 per visit for patients who qualify under the means test. Additional charges are made for radiology and pathology services.

A Pharmacy charge is also subject to a means test on income, with charges commencing at 50c per prescription.

Queensland - No means test is applied.

South Australia - A means test based on income is applied at Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals. Detailed information on this means test is not available.

No means test is applied in Government owned country hospitals.

Western Australia: In the metropolitan public hospitals a means test is applied. From the gross income (excluding Child Endowment) are deducted - $6 for dependent wife or husband, $4 for the first child, $3 for each other child, and an amount up to a maximum of $10 for rental or home purchase.

If the net income is below $30.00 per week the patient is eligible for outpatient treatment on a sliding scale basis as follows:

Adjusted income $25-$30 per week- $2.00 per visit.

Adjusted income $20-$25 per week- $1.50 per visit.

Below $20 per week- $1.00 per visit

Weekly assessments are made in lieu of per visit basis where a patient has to attend frequently. Waiver of charges rests with the individual hospital authority.

Tasmania: No means test applicable. Charges are raised for electro-encephalography, radiology and pathology services but no charge is made for other services.

Hospital Boards have authority to remit or reduce charges in cases of hardship.

Northern Territory: A means test is applied. The weekly rate of $41.85 above the 20th parallel and $40.25 below that parallel for a skilled builders labourer under the Building Trade General (N.T.) Award is used as a basis. Those exempt from the payment of hospital charges are:

(i)   a single person earning the minimum wage of $41.85 less 174% i.e. $34.65

(ii)   a married person without dependent children where the combined weekly income of the husband and wife does not exceed $41.85

(iii)   a married person with dependent children where the combined weekly income of the husband and wife does not exceed $41.85 plus an additional amount of $2 in respect of each dependent child

(iv)   a widow or widower who has dependent children whose weekly income does not exceed $41.85 plus $2 in respect of each dependent child

(v)   pensioners and persons in receipt of sickness or unemployment benefits.

(vi)   persons suffering from an infectious disease as listed in the Public Health Regulations schedule.

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