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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 2362

Senator Lillico asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice:

(   1 ) What are the minimum weekly earnings that will attract compulsory national health insurance under the Government's proposed scheme.

(2)   What is the lowest weekly income which will attract the maximum rate to be charged for compulsory health insurance.

(3)   What will be the scale of weekly charges for (a) a single person; (b) a family; and(c) widows' providers after the death of the spouse who have been paying under the scheme.

(4)   Will the proposed scheme permit people to pay for private wards, or do the charges set out allow for this; if not, how will the person who wants private hospitalisation or treatment by his own doctor, be able to achieve this.

(5)   Does the Government know that the former British Prime Minister, theRt. Hon. Harold Wilson, wanted to establish the same scheme as Australia has at present, because of (a) the cost of the nationalised scheme, and (b) the loss of doctors in that country.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1   ) Details of the health insurance levy were clarified in the white paper on the Universal Health Insurance Program that was tabled on 8 November, 1973. It explained that the health insurance levy will be based on taxable incomes and initially, the following groups of people will be exempted from payment of the levy:

(i)   people whose taxable incomes are$ 1040 or less;

(ii)   aged persons entitled to the recently introduced income tax rebate, whose taxable incomes are $ 1 920 or less;

(iii)   families whose taxable incomes are $2210 or less and who claim $100 or more in deductions for dependants. (This is in the context that a family consisting of a man, wife and one child and earning the minimum wage (currently $60.10 a week) should not be liable to pay the levy;

(iv)   people with Pensioner Medical Service entitlement;

(v)   certain Repatriation beneficiaries.

In addition, in cases (i) to (iii) above, concessional rates of levy will apply to incomes marginally above the exemption limits.

(2)   The ceiling of $150 a year for the health insurance levy will be reached at a taxable annual income of $ 1 1,1 12. For a man with a wife and two children, this would represent on average a gross income of around $ 1 3,500 a year.

(3)   The levy will be charged on taxable incomes and accordingly it will be the level of this income, rather than one 's marital or family status that will determine the level of contribution.

(4)   As detailed in the white paper, it is proposed that patients may elect to be treated in private wards and that private hospital insurance will be available to provide cover for the cost of this accommodation above the bed day subsidy of $16. The Australian Health Insurance Program will provide fee for service benefits in respect of charges made by private doctors who treat private ward patients.

(5)   I am not aware of any such proposal by the former British Prime Minister.

Australian Capital Territory: Medical Staff at New Health Centres (Question No. 513)

Senator Prowse (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(   1 ) What are the terms of employment of senior medical staff employed at the new health centres located at Melba and Scullin in the Australian Capital Territory, with regard to (a) salary; (b) holiday leave; (c) study leave; (d) long service leave; (e) any other benefits.

(2)   What is the case load per doctor employed.

(3)   Is Saturday work undertaken.

(4)   What is the call time.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister for Health has provided the following answers to the honourable senator's question:

Scullin Centre is staffed by fee-for-service medical practitioners who lease their premises at the Centre and are therefore completely independent. Melba Centre is staffed by salaried practitioners and, in respect of these, the answer to the honourable senator's question is:


(a)   $17,000, $18,500 or $20,000 depending on qualifications and experience;

(   b ) five weeks ' recreation leave per annum;

(c)   full salary is payable to medical staff attending approved seminars and refresher courses. In addition, medical staff who are permanent officers of the Australian Public Service would be entitled to leave on full salary while attending approved courses of study;

(d)   4.5 months after completion of 15 years' service. After that, leave accumulates at 0.3 months per year of service;

(e)   superannuation benefits are available to appointees, who are not already permanent officers, under the usual terms relating to temporary/exempt employees; removal expenses and fares for practitioners recruited outside the A.C.T. and their families; assistance with housing; provision of a car for official use; assistance with telephone; allowances similar to those received by other Government employees (for example, travelling allowance); $500 p.a. administrative allowance payable to one practitioner who undertakes administrative duties connected with the Centre.

(2   ) Twenty-five to forty patients a day.

(3)   Yes, on an out-of-hours roster basis so that one practitioner is always available.

(4)   The practitioners divide the roster between them so that there is always one practitioner on call at night and on weekends as in a group practice.

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