New Legislation Attempting To Mask Massive Health Insurance Policy Failure – 18 August 1997

Today’s announcement by the Federal Health Minister of yet further legislation for private health insurance is masking a massive policy failure, Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate said in Sydney today.

“It’s about time the Prime Minister called a halt to this policy fiasco”, Mr Milgate said.

“It’s time to ask why Australians have been voting with their feet to leave health funds instead of desperately passing legislation to prop up the industry”.

“First we were told the Lawrence Legislation (multiple contracts and dog-eat-dog competitive provisions) would fix the problem, then a review of that legislation would fix the problem, then competition policy would fix the problem, then Government rebates would fix the problem, then contracts with health funds would fix the problem, then the extra Medicare levy would fix the problem, then a productivity commission report would fix the problem. Now we are told that billing changes, advance quotes for surgery and private hospital contracts will fix the problem. When will they learn!” Mr Milgate said.

“These recent changes are yet another attempt at being seen to be doing something about private health insurance which is a product 70% of Australians do not want.”

“The changes are an attempt to mask a massive policy failure.”


Chairman of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Dr Bruce Shepherd calls on the Federal Government to:

Repeal the failed Lawrence Legislation (which it opposed whilst in Opposition).

Allow for transparent prices between all parties involved in health care by outlawing commercial in-confidence agreements between health funds, hospitals and doctors.

Allow new products such as extended trauma cover and Medical Savings Accounts.

Encourage health funds to offer more ‘no frills’ packages with large front end deductibles and lower prices – some have started this process.

Encourage all Australians to save for future health costs either as part of superannuation or tax-free savings accounts which attract rebates.