Health insurers and state and territory governments are negotiating with insurers to ensure that they can provide new social security-funded health coverage to Australians by 2020.
Key points:Health insurers are concerned about what they perceive as a breach in Australia’s social security system by a group of former and current workers who took over the program in the past three yearsWhile the program was set up to provide health coverage for Australians who are eligible, the current workers were not.
Australia’s federal government has asked insurers to work out how they can accommodate the new workers who have taken over the social security program.
The Australian Workers’ Union has called on the federal government to guarantee new health cover for the people who took it over and to “bring this new group of workers in”.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said in a statement on Monday that insurers and the Commonwealth were “continuing to discuss how we can work collaboratively to ensure the new people who are here do not undermine the system and its operations”.
“It is essential that Australians have access to a range of health services that meet their needs, and we are actively engaged with all stakeholders in this regard,” Ms Skinner said.
The government says it has offered the workers a “living wage” of $15 an hour, but has not set a timeframe for them to take over.
It has asked the federal Government to consult with all the stakeholders involved in this process.
Health insurance industry says it’s not ready to meet the demandMany of the former and present employees of the program have left, and others have started their own businesses.
In September, the former employees of Social Security Australia’s payroll service, who were not part of the current social security workers, took over.
The federal government says they are taking a “hands-off” approach.
“We are committed to delivering a high quality and timely social security health program for Australians, including ensuring that we provide a high standard of care and are able to provide this support in a manner that supports the needs of individuals and families,” Ms Gillard said.
The health insurer Aetna says it is still considering the offer from the former workers.
“We remain engaged with the federal and state governments and are working closely with the employer and the federal Labor Government to address the needs for new employees,” it said.
“As the government has made clear, the social service payroll program will be managed by Aetas and will remain in place for the foreseeable future.”
The current and former employees are working under contract with Aeta and we continue to monitor the program and provide updates on its status.
CHIS has always taken a hands-off approach to these matters.”