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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 447

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 20 May 1980:

(1)   What was the (a) total number and (b) national average of claims received in relation to (i) item 59 and (ii) item 53 of the medical benefits fees schedule in each year since 1973.

(2)   Were claims received in relation to (a) item 59 and (b) item 53 for services provided through or by Western Medical services Pty Ltd of Sydney, New South Wales; if so, how many.

Mr MacKellar - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   (a) and (b) lt is estimated that the number of benefit claims and the average number of claims per 1 ,000 persons covered in relation to items 53 and 59 of the Medical Benefits Schedule in each year since 1973 (for which statistics are available) are as follows:

Calendar year 1978

In interpreting the figures, it should be noted that changes to the Medical Benefits Scheme over the years shown in the table affect the number of services that attract medical benefits and the persons covered by the Schemes. For example, in respect of these items particularly, statistics for 1973-74 and 1974-75 are not directly comparable with those for later years. Prior to the introduction of Medibank in July 1975, a separate Pensioner Medical Service Scheme existed from which payments were made to participating doctors for services rendered to eligible pensioners and their dependants. Under Medibank (from 1 July 1975), such services were included in the Medical Benefits Scheme and hence in the above statistics.

(2)   The Health Insurance Act 1973, in common.with some other Commonwealth legislation, contains a provision relating to confidentiality of information obtained in the carrying out of functions under the legislation. Under this provision, it is an offence for an officer to communicate to any person information about the affairs of another person. The exemptions from this provision specified in the Act do not appear to apply in respect of the information sought by the honourable member in relation to the Western Medical Services Pty Ltd at Sydney, New South Wales It is not proposed, therefore, to make the information requested available.

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