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Monday, 20 May 1957

Mr Griffiths (SHORTLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) s asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Health, upon notice-^

1.   Have the regulations made under the National Health Act been amended to provide (a) that, after taking into account the Commonwealth hospital benefits, the amount of fund benefit paid under any table shall not exceed the total amount payable to the hospital; (b) that a special membership record be maintained in respect of married and single contributors to tables for £14 14s. a week or more showing for each such table in each financial year the (i) number of members joining, (ii) number of exits, (iii) number of members existing at the end of the year, (iv) amount of contributions received, and (v) amount paid in claims; and (c) that the following limitations should be included in the rules covering these tables: - (1) entry to be limited to persons of 65 years of age or under, (ii) a waiting period to be applied to transfers to the new tables similar to that applicable to new members, and (iii) for at least the first two years of membership in new tables, no benefit to be paid in respect of ailments existing at the time of entry to the new table?

2.   If not, does any authority exist which would prevent members of hospital benefits funds from contributing to funds for benefits in excess of actual hospital costs, including the Commonwealth benefits?

3.   Are benefit fund organizations bound to accept and observe the rules referred to?

Mr Townley - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The National Health Act 1953-1956 provides that if an organization changes its rules to alter the benefits provided, the change is inoperative and has no legal effect until the Minister's approval has been given. The Minister's approval may be given subject to variation of the conditions under which the organization is registered. In November, 1955, the Department of Health advised all registered organizations that if they wished to introduce new tables of benefit of £14 14s. per week or higher at the usual rates of contribution, they should consider the adoption of the conditions quoted by the honorable member.

2.   No specific legislative authority exists, but in the case of registered hospital benefit organizations which introduced tables of benefit of £14 14s. a week or higher after November, 1955, the authority is contained in the organizations' rules.

3.   See 1.

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