Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
One stop shops for lodging Medicare & health fund claims.

Download WordDownload Word




Media Release


Dr Michael Wooldridge


MW 78/98

15 April 1998




Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, today announced that private health insurance funds will so on be able to act as agents for Medicare, meaning simpler and more speedy lodgment and payment of claims to customers.


Opening the new national headquarters of Medibank Private in Canberra, following its establishment as a government-owned business independent from the Health Insurance Commission, Dr Wooldridge said that negotiations would commence between the HIC and health funds with an aim of having the two-way agency relationship available from 1 July.


"This reform addresses one of the major complaints people have about private health insurance which is having to make separate claims from different offices, some weeks apart, with delays in payments," Dr Wooldridge said.


"At the moment people with private health insurance have to first lodge their claim with Medicare, wait for the cheques to come through, and then lodge the additional claims with their private health fund.


"This is hardly a user-friendly system and often causes great inconvenience to people, especially those who are still recovering from major surgery.


"Allowing the health funds to act as agents for lodging Medicare claims, and vice-versa, means people will only have to go to one office to put in all of their claims, and they won't have to wait for the Medicare cheque to arrive before sending in their health fund claims.


"It will also improve access to Medicare since the health insurance funds' offices will be added to Medicare's own network for lodgement of claims.


"This demonstrates the Coalition's commitment to those Australians with private health insurance, and our overriding commitment to Australia's health system with its unique mix of private and public health funding," he said.


Under the two-way agency arrangements, all private health insurance funds would have the opportunity to become agents for the lodgement of Medicare claims, and Medicare offices will be able to act as agents for the lodgement of claims from members of participating funds.


People would be able to submit both their Medicare and private health insurance claims, notify changes to their personal details, and obtain information in the one location, he said.


Dr Wooldridge said the opportunity was now available for private health insurance funds to become more user friendly and for private health funds to innovatively broaden access to private health insurance as a whole."


"The Health Insurance Commission will be commencing discussions with representatives of private health insurance funds to develop individual arrangements.


"The arrangements will be flexible as some health funds may perceive advantages in entering into arrangements only in certain geographical areas and not in others,"he said.


"Other health funds may also wish to undertake a restricted pilot of the arrangements to explore the reactions of their members, and examine their financial and operational considerations.


"I look forward to a positive reaction from the health funds to this opportunity and the delivery of better service to the community," Dr Wooldridge said.


Media Contact:



Bill Royce, Dr Wooldridge's office (02) 6277 7220