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Tuesday, 30 August 1960


Mr Ward d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   Has he stated that people had to be assisted to the extent necessary to enable them to easily afford medical fees?

2.   If so, what percentage of the cost should be met by the patient and what percentage by the Government?

3.   Will he state how the cost to the Government of such a scheme can be kept within practical limits without legally determining the scale of fees which may be charged by the medical profession?


Dr Donald Cameron (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The medical benefits scheme is designed to assist people to meet their medical expenses.

2.   The overall position is that contributors, medical benefit funds and the Commonwealth each bear approximately one-third of the medical expenses.

3.   The cost to the Government is not affected by variations in the fees charged by the medical profession.


Mr Beazley y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

Why are contributors to the Hospital Benefit Scheme who are paying extra contributions for extra coverage before the prescribed date of 15th June, 1960, eligible for higher benefits if treated in a government hospital than if treated in a private hospital?


Dr Donald Cameron (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows: -

In Western Australian public hospitals, the State Government recently increased public ward fees from 36s. to 56s. per day. Where a contributor to a registered hospital benefit organization wished to increase his benefit cover to meet the new charges, the rules of most organizations provide for a waiting period of two months before benefit becomes payable at the new rate. To meet this situation, the State authorities allowed a concessional reduction in the new fees, for members who increased their benefit cover before 15th June, 1960. This concession, which expired on 15th August, 1960, had the effect of deferring the increased charges, so that if a member's benefit cover had previously been sufficient to meet the old public ward charges, it should remain sufficient to meet public ward charges incurred during the two months' waiting period for eligibility to receive benefit at the higher rate. Under this arrangement, there is no question of a higher rate of benefit being paid in a government hospital than in a private hospital. In either case, the contributor should receive the rate for which he is insured, subject to the rules of the particular organization.


Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice: -

1.   What payments have been made to registered hospital and medical benefits organizations by their members, in each of the last three financial years?

2.   What payments have been made to or in respect of their members by these organizations in each of these years?

3.   How many persons were employed by these organizations at the end of each of these years?


Dr Donald Cameron (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The following amounts were paid to registered hospital and medical benefit organizations by their members in each of the last three financial years: -

 

2.   Payments of fund benefit to members during the same period were: -

 

3.   Particulars of staff employed are not available.


Mr Whitlam m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   How many claims were (a) accepted and (b) rejected by registered medical benefits funds during 1959?

2.   What percentage of the cost of medical services for which claims were accepted was met by (a) the funds, (b) the Commonwealth, and (c) the contributors?

3.   What were the principal reasons for rejecting claims and what percentage of claims was rejected for each of these reasons?


Dr Donald Cameron (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Statistics according to claims are not kept, but figures are available on the basis of individual services. In 1959 claims were accepted in respect of 18,469,957 individual professional services. Of these 310,126 did not attract fund benefit. 2. (a) 34.9 per cent.; (b) 28.8 per cent.; (c) 36.3 per cent.

3.   The principal reasons for rejecting fund benefit were:

(a)   Service during the waiting period (normally the first two months of membership) - 0.45 per cent. of services;

(b)   The illness was in evidence at time of joining - 0.39 per cent. of services;

(c)   Maximum annual benefits previously paid - 0.19 per cent. of services;

(d)   Optional services (i.e. services for which the member has not insured himself) - 0.12 per cent. of services.


Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   How many claims during 1959 qualified for (a) hospital fund benefits and (b) Commonwealth additional benefits?

2.   What was the average amount paid in fund benefit and Commonwealth benefit?

3.   What were the principal reasons for refusing fund benefit and what percentage of claims was rejected for each of these reasons?


Dr Donald Cameron (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) n. - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   During 1959, 826,665 claims qualified for hospital fund benefit and 784,840 for Commonwealth additional benefit.

2.   For these claims the average fund benefit paid was £13 8s. 6d. and the average Commonwealth additional benefit £8 3s. 2d.

3.   The principal reasons for refusal of fund benefit in 1959 were -

(a)   the hospital was not recognized for fund benefit under the organization's rules - 32.2 per cent. of days for which patients claimed Commonwealth additional benefit;

(b)   the illness was in evidence at the time of joining - 1.7 per cent. of days for which patients claimed Commonwealth additional benefit;

(c)   maximum annual fund benefit previously paid - 0.9 per cent. of days for which patients claimed Commonwealth additional benefit;

(d)   chronic illness - 0.4 per cent. of days for which patients claimed Commonwealth additional benefit;

(e)   hospitalization during the waiting period (normally the first two months of membership) 1.1 per cent. of days for which patients claimed Commonwealth additional benefit.

Commonwealth hospital benefit was paid in all the above cases.







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