Bills Digest 79 1996-97 Health Legislation Amendment (Private Health Insurance Incentives) Bill 1996


Numerical Index | Alphabetical Index

WARNING:
This Digest is prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.

This Digest was available from 31 January 1996.

CONTENTS

Passage History

Health Legislation Amendment (Private Health Insurance Incentives) Bill 1996

Date Introduced: 13 December 1996
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Health and Family Services
Commencement: Royal Assent

Purpose

The amendments proposed by this Bill are consequential to the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996. The major amendments:

  • make the administration of the incentives scheme a function of the Health Insurance Commission;
  • make it a condition of registration of a registered health benefits organisation to comply with a requirement imposed on it by the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996;
  • require registered health benefits organisations to provide certain information relating to the incentives scheme to the Private Health Insurance Administration Council; and
  • provide for a complaint to be made to the Private Health Insurance Complaints Commission on any matter arising out of or connected with the incentives scheme.

Background

The reader is referred to the Digest for the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996.

Main Provisions

Amendments to the Health Insurance Commission Act 1973

The effect of item 1 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is to make the administration of the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996 a function of the Health Insurance Commission.

Note: The Health Insurance Commission is a statutory authority established by the Health Insurance Commission Act 1973. The Health Insurance Commission has responsibility for administering Medicare, Medibank Private, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Childcare Cash Rebate Scheme, the National Childhood Immunisation Program, Department of Veteran' Affairs Treatment Accounts and Australian Hearing Services.

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Amendments to the National Health Act 1953

The effect of item 2 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is to make it a condition of registration of a registered health benefits organisation to comply with a requirement imposed on it by the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996.

Note: A number of conditions of registration are imposed on health benefits organisations by the National Health Act 1953, including: that the organisation will keep a record of the names and addresses of all members of the organisation; that the organisation must not discriminate against an eligible contributor on the grounds of race, sex or sexuality; and that the assets of the organisation not fall below a prescribed level.

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The effect of item 3 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is to make it a function of the Private Health Insurance Administration Council to obtain reports from registered health benefits organisations about matters relating to the incentives scheme, including reports supported by actuarial certification.

Note: The Private Health Insurance Administration Council is a statutory corporation established by the National Health Act 1953. The main powers and functions of the Council include: to monitor the financial performance of registered health benefits organisations; establish uniform reporting standards by registered health benefits organisations; and impose levies on registered health benefits organisations to cover the general administrative costs of the Council, administrative costs of reviews conducted by Acute Care Advisory Committees and unpaid claims of a collapsed organisation.

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New subsections 82L(3)-(5), dealing with annual reports of registered health benefits organisations which are participating funds to the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, are inserted in the National Health Act 1953 by item 4 of Schedule 1 of the Bill. The proposed subsections requires a report to contain details of:

  • fund members who were participants in the incentives scheme for that year;
  • reductions of premiums payable for that year as a result of the incentives scheme;
  • receipt of money from the Health Insurance Commission under the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996 during that year; and
  • a statement by an auditor as to whether in his or her opinion the registered health benefits organisation has complied with the provisions of the proposed Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996.

Note: A 'participating fund' is a registered health organisation which the Minister has approved as a participating fund under proposed subsection 7(3) of the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996.

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Item 5 of Schedule 1 of the Bill requires the annual report of the Private Health Insurance Administration Council to contain such information as the Minister determines relating to the involvement of registered health benefits organisations in the incentives scheme. The annual report must contain information about any statement by an auditor that the organisation concerned has not complied with the provisions of the proposed Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996 during the year.

The effect of item 6 of Schedule 1 of the Bill is to provide the Minister with power, after having regard to an auditor's statement that a registered health benefits organisation has not complied with the provisions of the Private Health Insurance Incentives Bill 1996, to ask the organisation why an inspector should not be appointed to investigate the organisation.

A new section 82ZSA is substituted in the Principal Act by item 7 of Schedule 1 of the Bill which provides for a complaint to be made to the Private Health Insurance Complaints Commission on:

  • any matter arising out of or connected with a private health insurance arrangement; or
  • any matter arising out of or connected with the incentives scheme.

Note: The Private Health Insurance Complaints Commissioner is a statutory corporation established under section 82ZR of the National Health Act 1953 The role of the Commissioner is to deal with complaints about private health insurance arrangements. Under section 82ZSA a complaint may be made to the Complaints Commissioner about any matter arising out of or connected with a private health insurance agreement. Complaints may be brought by: a person who is, or was at the time of the incident to which the complaint relates, a contributor to the health benefits fund conducted by a registered health benefits organisation: a hospital or day hospital facility; a medical practitioner; or a registered health benefits organisation.

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Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Ian Ireland Ph. 06 277 2438
24 January 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1323-9031
© Commonwealth of Australia 1996

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 4 March 1997


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