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Thursday, 18 June 2009
Page: 3776

Senator Cormann asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, upon notice, on 5 March 2009:

(1)   Given that the Minister’s press release of 2 March 2009 indicated that the premium application deadline will be a month earlier in future to enable the Government ‘to analyse and assess applications to ensure that the increases sought by insurers are necessary’ and will ‘allow more time for negotiations with insurers’, does this mean that the process to be followed in 2009, involving extensive personal intervention by the Minister, will become standard procedure for future years.

(2)   Was the decision to bring forward premium application deadlines by a month for future rounds made in consultation with the private health insurance industry.

(3) (a)   When will the industry be advised of the future procedures, rules and requirements for premium applications from 2010 onwards; and (b) will there be consultation with the industry before these rules and requirements are finalised.

(4)   Given the Minister’s interventions in the most recent premium round, will the Minister accept personal responsibility for the full consequences of the Government’s final decisions on private health insurance premiums.

Senator Ludwig (Minister for Human Services) —The Minister for Health and Ageing has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:

(1)   I intend to continue my personal involvement in future years.

(2)   Informal discussions had previously occurred with industry concerning the possibility of bringing forward the closing date for premium applications.


(a)   It is expected that industry will be provided with further information concerning the premium approval process for 2010 in August 2009.

(b)   The Department and I will have ongoing consultations with the private health insurance industry.

(4)   As Minister, I am required under the legislation to assess whether a proposed premium change is contrary to the public interest, and I fully intend to discharge my statutory responsibilities.