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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1923

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

(   1 ) What is the current estimate of the cost of the Government's proposed national health scheme.

(2)   What provision has been made in that estimate to compensate for the present high rate of inflation in Australia.

(3)   What is the estimate of the cost of the scheme in (a) the second year of operation and (b) the third year of operation.

Senator Wheeldon - The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) As I have mentioned before, the cost of the Australian Health Insurance Program will be about the same as the sum of the present private health insurance scheme plus pensioner hospital and medical benefits and Repatriation medical services costs. The last costing carried out is in the White Paper: 'The Australian Health Insurance Program'.

(2)   The rate of inflation and any other causes of increased costs effect equally both the existing scheme and the new Program. The new Program will cover everyone in the community unlike the present scheme which covers only 87 per cent of the population leaving between one and one and a half million people unprotected. The provision of adequate cover for these people would represent an enormous increase in costs for the present scheme and this is one indication of the cost-saving nature of the new Program.

(3)   No such estimate has been made in relation to the existing scheme or the new Program. Senator Baume would be interested to know that previous Liberal/Country Party Health Ministers always refused to make any forward projections of the cost of private health insurance and, in fact, would only provide detailed figures for a financial year some several months after the conclusion of that financial year.

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