Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Private Health Insurance Amendment (Income Thresholds) Bill 2021; Second Reading
This bill, the Private Health Insurance Amendment (Income Thresholds) Bill 2021, implements a 2021 budget measure. Importantly, it provides stability regarding the application of these two important private health insurance incentives to consumers and other stakeholders while a detailed study is undertaken to ensure the regulatory settings are appropriate to encourage participation and support affordable premiums. I want to thank members for their contributions to the debate on this bill.
The bill amends the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 to extend the current income thresholds that apply to the private health insurance rebate and the Medicare levy surcharge for another two years and ensures annual indexation of thresholds recommences from 2023-24. The bill maintains indexation based on Australian Bureau of Statistics average weekly ordinary time earnings. The bill makes no changes to the Medicare levy surcharge rates or the private health insurance rebate rates.
The Private Health Insurance Act 2007, as amended, continues to incentivise higher income earners to financially contribute towards their own healthcare costs by purchasing private health insurance hospital cover or pay the Medicare levy surcharge. The bill gives certainty for consumers who rely on these arrangements to choose and compare private health insurance policies and services that are right for them. The pause means that $90,000 remains the base income tier threshold for Medicare levy surcharge for a single's individual policy and $180,000 for a couple's and family's policy. The Medicare levy surcharge and private health insurance rebate tier arrangements continue to be income tested each financial year.
The bill means that, if individuals' or couples' and families' incomes continue to be lower than the relevant income thresholds, they continue to be eligible to receive a government rebate towards their private health insurance policy premium.
The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Hindmarsh has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question before the House is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.