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Thursday, 9 May 1985
Page: 1957

Mr LAMB —Is the Minister for Health aware that blood glucose meters, costing around $200 each, are now in widespread use for the monitoring of blood sugar level in diabetics and are considered essential by many medical specialists in the treatment of diabetic patients? Can the Minister inform the House why no private health insurance benefits tables in Victoria provide any cover for the acquisition of these meters, yet cover is available in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales? In particular, why does Medibank Private not provide in Victoria cover similar to that which it provides in other States? Will the Minister take this up with Medibank?

Dr BLEWETT —I am aware of the widespread use of blood glucose machines for monitoring the blood sugar content of diabetics and I recognise that a high cost is involved in their use. I have to point out that it is up to individual funds in each State to determine what benefits they will make available on their ancillary tables. These are the tables which, in some States, cover such items as these glucose machines. The funds necessarily limit the number of items they cover in order to keep the costs of those contribution rates down as much as possible.

Insofar as Medibank Private is concerned, each State Medibank Private determines its own range of items that will be covered by ancillary benefits on the basis of the community demand and the range of items offered by its competitors. So we have a somewhat different situation in each State. However, Medibank Private carries out regular reviews of its ancillary benefits. I have asked the General Manager of Medibank Private as a matter of urgency to arrange for the Victorian State executive of that fund to have an immediate discussion with the Victorian diabetics association on the need and the possibility of having these meters included on its ancillary tables. I urge the other private health funds in Victoria to take the same action.