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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4547

Mr Kennedy asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice: (.1) On what date did the subsidised health insurance scheme for low income earners, migrants, etc., come into effect.

(2)   What methods have been used to advertise the scheme.

(3)   How much has been spent on advertising the scheme.

(4)   In what ways have procedures of the scheme been simplified, as reported in the 'Age' of 12th March 1971.

Dr Forbes - The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   The Subsidised Health Benefits Plan commenced operation on 1st January 1970. As from 1st July 1970, the Plan was extended to provide graduated assistance with health insurance contributions to low income families whose weekly income slightly exceeds the eligibility limit for full assistance.

(2)   and (3) When the Plan was introduced, a special advertising campaign was carried out in January, February and March 1970. The campaign utilised major metropolitan and country newspapers and the foreign language press. There was also extensive radio advertising. The cost of this campaign was $43,000.

In January 1970, 500,000 copies ot a pamphlet titled 'Subsidised Medical Services' were distributed to health insurance organisations, hospitals and doctors. In July 1970, 500,000 copies of a revised pamphlet containing details of the new income eligibility limits were distributed through the same channels. The cost of producing each issue of these pamphlets was approximately {2,000.

In April 1971, 750,000 copies of a pamphlet titled 'Help with Health Insurance' were issued when income eligibility limits for assistance under the Plan were again revised. The cost of producing these pamphlets was $3,025.

In addition to publicity directed solely at the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan, this assistance has been outlined in material publicising health benefits generally. In July and August 1970, an advertising campaign was carried out through Press, radio and television following the introduction of the new Health Benefits Plan. Details of the system of graduated eligibility for subsidised benefits were included in this 'campaign, the cost of which was $83,000. Similarly, during July and September 1970, 4,500,000 copies of a booklet titled 'A Guide to the Health Benefits Plan' were issued and 4.000.000 copies of a pamphlet titled 'Your Guide to Medical Insurance' were distributed. A prominent section on subsidised health benefits was included in both the booklet and the pamphlets.

(4)   The entitlement certificates have been simplified, with the aim of explaining to the beneficiary, in as simple language as possible, how the assistance available under the plan may be obtained.

A simplified application form has also been introduced, for use by low income families when applying for assistance. The new form may be completed and signed by a person other than the applicant, for example, the applicant's family doctor. In these cases, the entitlement certificate would be sent, not to the applicant himself, but to the person who assisted him by completing the application form.

I have also instructed my Department to examine more effective ways of encouraging eligible persons to participate in the Plan, lt is envisaged that the examination will encompass wider use of social workers, charitable organisations and other appropriate welfare groups in the community.

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