Dental Care Is Not Taken into Account

healthcare reformA group of healthcare professionals have a lot of questions with regards to the dental services’ funding in Australia. Politicians, economists and health policy experts have been picking over Prime Minister Rudd’s healthcare reform blueprint.

Mark Schiffter, a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Dentistry, said that no one seems to have discussed the role of public teaching hospitals in instructing the next generation of dentists. He added that dental training is expensive as it takes place in a chair that costs around $50,000 to $100,000 without the supplies.

The healthcare reform plan called for the use if case mix or activity based funding that doesn’t provide the costs for training dental specialists. Dental training is underfunded and depends on charity from the private practitioners to work with students in public hospitals.

The case mix approach forces hospitals to do less and provide no training to help reduce costs. PM Rudd’s healthcare funding reforms didn’t mention dental care and Neil Newson, President of the Australian Dental Association, said that the ADA hasn’t heard anything from the government.

Over 90 percent of dental services are provided by the private sector. The government’s Medicare plan doesn’t pay dentist like it does medical professionals. Patients have to pay for their own dental care unless they are covered by one of the two existing dental plans funded by the commonwealth.

The Enhanced Primary Care program, also known as the Medicare chronic disease dental scheme, is designed for those suffering from chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The EPC treated over 400,000 people with comprehensive dental services costing up to $1,225 a year.

Then there’s the Medicare Teen Dental Program that provides dental exams, cleaning, and some diagnostic and preventive treatments. If the family can’t afford the additional costs, teens are placed on waiting lists.

Photo by Pete Souza [Public domain], undefined

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