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Medical Benefit

Volume 52: debated on Thursday 24 April 1913

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asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether any insurance committees have made it a condition of granting leave to any insured persons to make their own arrangements for medical benefit that the applicant should not make arrangements with any doctor who is on the panel; and whether he will state under what Section of the National Insurance Act insurance committees have power to impose such a condition?

I understand that in some cases insured persons have been refused permission by a local insurance committee to make their own arrangements under Section 15 (3) with doctors on the panel. As I have on many occasions pointed out it is the duty of the insurance committees to exercise their discretion in dealing with applications of this nature, and it would certainly be within their powers to refuse to allow an insured person to make his own arrangements with a doctor on the panel if it appears to them either that the insured person in question should not derive any advantage there from, or that the interests of other insured persons in the area would suffer.

asked whether, in view of the fact that the provisional arrangements for medical benefit expire on 30th April, are any other arrangements made or to be made; and, if so, will they provide that insured persons, who in haste went to any doctor on a panel to have their medical ticket signed, be allowed, under any other Regulations made or to be made, to choose their own doctor by transfer?

The hon. Member is under a misapprehension. The arrangements made for medical benefit at the beginning of the year were only provisional in the sense that the doctors' and chemists' agreements with the insurance committees were made for a period of three months only. That period expired on 14th April, and the agreements have now been renewed throughout the country. As I stated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for the Chester-le-Street Division of Durham on Tuesday last, insured persons may change their doctors within the year either by consent of doctor and patient or by decision of the insurance committee if the committee considers transference desirable on any question arising between an insured person and the practitioner attending him.