Govt backs Medicare card safety changes

An independent review found Medicare cards should be retained as a secondary form of proof of ID.
An independent review found Medicare cards should be retained as a secondary form of proof of ID.

A public awareness campaign to encourage Australians to better protect their Medicare cards is one of 14 recommendations accepted by the federal government.

An independent review found Medicare cards should be retained as a secondary form of proof of ID despite reports last year some numbers were being sold on the dark web.

But it was suggested the Human Services Department undertake a public awareness campaign encouraging people and organisations to better protect their details.

Human Services Minister Michael Keenan and Health Minister Greg Hunt on Friday accepted 13 of the 14 review recommendations and committed in principle to working with stakeholders on the last.

They include that it is a condition of claiming Medicare benefits on behalf of patients that health professionals are required to take reasonable steps to confirm the identity of their patients.

Patients should also be able to request an audit log of health professionals who have sought access to their Medicare card number.

"The panel's recommendations are practical, evidence-based and in keeping with the government's mandate to preserve Medicare as the cornerstone of public healthcare in Australia," the government said in its response.

While there was no risk to patients' health records through the reported sale, the review found there was a danger that public confidence in the security of information held by governments is reduced.

A progress report on the changes will be provided to the government in the middle of the year, with the rollout to take until mid-2019.

Australian Associated Press