Health funds cover $2.6 billion per annum in dental benefits

Richard Laycock 10 August 2018 NEWS

Australians increasingly relying on private health insurance for dental services.

If you've seen the dentist lately it was probably funded by your private health fund, according to Private Healthcare Australia (PHA).

“In Dental Health Week it is worth noting that health funds are paying more than ever before for dental services in Australia, and more than both the Federal and State Governments. APRA’s latest dental service data reported that more than 41 million dental services were funded by health funds in the 12 months ending March 2018," said PHA chief executive Dr Rachel David in a statement.

PHA says that according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) that while the amount of dental costs covered by health funds has increased between 2009-10 to 2015-16, the amount of expenditure by the Australian government on dental services has declined.

“The proportion of total expenditure on dental services by health funds has increased from 14.0% in 2009-10 to 18.1% in 2015-16, according to the most recent figures (AIHW). In contrast, the proportion of total expenditure on dental services by the Australian Government has decreased from 16.3% in 2009-10 to 15.9% in 2015-16, and expenditure by State and Local Governments has decreased from 8.2% in 2009-10 to 7.7% in 2015-16.

“Health funds pay more than $2.6 billion per annum in dental benefits. 90% of dental health services provided to low and middle income earners are subsidised by health funds. 60% of dental treatments/services in hospitals which typically involves dental extractions and restorations are also paid for by health funds,” Dr David said.

While Australians are increasingly relying on cover from private health insurance many are still concerned about out-of-pocket costs. A recent survey conducted by finder.com.au found that roughly two-thirds of Aussies (66%) avoid the dentist with almost half (41%) citing cost as the major deterrent.

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