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Tuesday, 27 November 1973
Page: 3879

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is it a fact that under the proposed national health insurance scheme many people who prefer private hospitalisation, and now are insured for private hospitalisation in private hospitals and nursing homes, may be unable to afford the extra cost involved under the proposed plan and therefore will have no alternative but to accept public ward accommodation when it can be made available? Would such people be deprived of their existing right to choose their hospital, their doctor and their time of hospitalisation in the case of elective treatment?

Mr HAYDEN - The answer is no, not at all. In fact the additional cost of non-public ward treatment - that is, intermediate ward and private ward treatment in a public hospital and private hospital treatment - will be a tax deductible item. For the great number of people in Australia the 1.3S per cent levy on taxable income in total will be less or up to the break even point. There will be a reversal. There will be more expense for some people. They will be people who get particularly high incomes - people such as members of this Parliament. Presently we pay less than modest and middle income earners do for their insurance. For instance, a man with a wife and 2 children in New South Wales receiving $400 a week pays about only $53 a year after his taxation concession for private ward and medical insurance. But if he were earning only $70 a week, for a public ward cover, which is a much cheaper form of treatment, and medical insurance he would be paying, I think, about $76 a year for that form of insurance after his taxation concession. That is inequitable and we will turn that around. I repeat that there will not be the sort of problem that the right honourable member suggested.

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