Dentists fuming over ‘low-value’ private health extras cover

Calls for tax incentives to allow individuals to save for their own health care.

Dentists slam private health cover

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has called for tax incentives to allow individuals to save for their own health care as an alternative to taking out general treatment cover.

Releasing the findings of a report ‘Saving for Ones’ Care’ ADA President Dr Hugo Sachs claimed that extras cover was not good value for consumers.

“Existing funding arrangements for dental and allied health care are not meeting the needs of many Australians,” Dr Sachs explained.

According to the ADA, many consumers with general treatment cover:

  • Are penalised through differential rebates because they prefer to see a practitioner of their choice
  • Pay high out-of-pocket costs due to gaps and exclusions in policies
  • Receive minimal annual increases in rebates for services such as dental care, and
  • Are subject to annual limits that often restrict what treatment they can have.

“Governments could use tax incentives for health savings accounts to offer positive incentives to save for one’s care in a way that is consumer-centred, without barriers to consumer choice, and where consumers are rewarded for proactively managing their dental and allied health care in a way that is easily understood,” added Dr Sachs.

Health savings accounts present an opportunity to encourage Australians to save for their dental and allied health care, overcoming the limitations to general treatment cover and introducing a reward-based proactive approach to health care.

“The reality is Australians have been experiencing more out-of-pocket costs and are paying more in premiums over the last 15 years,” Dr Sachs said.

“The system is not working and it’s time to go back to the drawing board.”

What do you think of the ADA’s proposal? Would you prefer to have more control over where your private health insurance is spent?

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    COMMENTS

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    TREBOR
    7th Mar 2018
    10:02am
    Being as I'm not in private health, I'll wait this one out.... but it does seem that the 'for profit' private enterprise model is failing yet again to produce greater efficiency and service... and is sliding down into nothing but a get rich scheme for a few.

    Seems we've been sold a pup with all that blurb. Thus far - not ONE 'private enterprise to offer greater efficiency and service' has done anything like that.... only greater cost.
    MICK
    7th Mar 2018
    7:09pm
    Called milking the pot. The worst thing that ever happened was governments getting out of key businesses like health and social housing. Now average Australians are under attack from greedy businesses who bribe governments to look the other way. So who is paying the salaries and generous retirement benefits of politicians????? Maybe time we let the private sector pick up the tab for that one.
    TREBOR
    7th Mar 2018
    10:02am
    ... including apparently never-ending government/taxpayer subsidies.
    KB
    7th Mar 2018
    10:26am
    .Some private dentists support certain health funds.If you belong to one they support then the patient will receive a greater discount on their dental fees.The problem is not the funds but the fact dentists charge exorbitant costs for dental work, Dentists should lower their charges.
    Rae
    7th Mar 2018
    11:18am
    I don't think they can. The cost of premises, insurance, equipment and resources and salaries make dentistry a very expensive business.

    The insurance costs alone are exorbitant.
    HarrysOpinion
    7th Mar 2018
    11:27am
    So is the car service industry. They will be charging customers $250 for a mandatory car wash and clean before any service work is done. Just like the dentists do.
    TREBOR
    7th Mar 2018
    1:29pm
    Yup - can't be expected to get hands dirty under a greasy and oily car.

    7th Mar 2018
    10:27am
    When I started work, my first boss told me not to take health insurance but to save and put a deposit on a house that could be paid off with rental income and would then provide a safety net to cover health costs in later life. I couldn't take his advice due to suffering major ill health when very young, and being generally very disadvantaged, but I think it was good advice.

    I see merit in the ADA's proposal, though it leaves those who suffer significant ill-health in their early working lives out in the cold.

    One of my strong objections to the pension assets test changes is that the assets test punishes those who put money aside for specific health care they might anticipate needing in alter life. They have to spend that money to compensate for not receiving any pension, no matter how low their income, and that denies them the right to preserve savings for future health needs. If the ADA's proposal is adopted, the assets test and deeming provisions should also be adjusted to fix that anomaly, including allowing people who suffer injury to preserve compensation payments for their intended purpose rather than having them assessed and having to spend them on day to day living because they can't get a pension.

    I have always objected to the low benefits for dental, optical, and alternate health care. Those whose needs are seen to be less 'conventional' or common, suffer major discrimination under the current system. And the system is now well and truly broken, with high premiums continually rising and way too many exceptions and limitations and huge gap costs.
    Anonymous
    7th Mar 2018
    3:56pm
    Great advice from your first boss? Not in my book. Gouging those forced to rent through no fault of their own is not in the slightest bit morally superior to health-insurance companies or dentists gouging their victims. The common factor is greed.

    And given Medicare and the taxes we all pay, one should not need to save for future health costs - particularly if you look after your health early in life.
    Anonymous
    8th Mar 2018
    1:15pm
    Who said anything about gouging anyone forced to pay rent, Knows-a-lot? Those who buy homes incur costs. Why shouldn't people pay a fair fee for accommodation?

    I agree we shouldn't need to save for future health costs, but WE DO!
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2018
    7:58pm
    Yes, both Age Pensions and the Private Health Insurance systems are a TOTAL MESS, with no party appearing to have any clue or guts to go about fixing these. C'mon, all Retirees - throw the seat-warmers out!
    Rae
    7th Mar 2018
    11:23am
    The private health system is becoming unaffordable. I wish I'd just started a bank saving account and put the money in there for the past 48 years. I've had not much benefit and now that I'm getting to a point I may need treatments it looks like the funds won't survive.
    Total waste of savings dollars.
    Troubadour
    8th Mar 2018
    12:38pm
    You and me both Rae - I have quite often thought that over the last few years.
    Circum
    11th Mar 2018
    9:01pm
    It would have been a smart thing to do Rae.You would have had money left over to buy a racehorse.
    johnp
    7th Mar 2018
    11:24am
    I havent done it but I know several people who have gone to SE Asia for their dental work and all have been happy with the result. Apparently the savings have more than paid for their trip and associated extended holiday.
    john
    7th Mar 2018
    12:50pm
    In some cases , I've heard of a succesful visit , but also more than one disaster.

    7th Mar 2018
    11:51am
    One of the many problems with health insurance is the "gap" which is caused by the inability of the professional bodies which control the practitioners to establish what is a standard fee. The "gap" is blamed on health providers when it's a problem caused by the fees charged by those providing medical assistance. There is no standard fee. I had cause to visit a specialist and the first fee was $180 and the consultation lasted about 10 minutes as he required more tests. The tests were the same as my GP had provided although the results were different. The second consultation was $140 and, again, lasted about 10 minutes because the second round of results was negative. I asked about the difference in fees and was assured that the first visit involved setting up a patient's file. Surely setting up a patient's file is a part of being in business and shouldn't require a special cost.

    In saying all of that, I think that the health insurance providers are ripping the consumers off. I can't see how they can justify the increases which are well above the CPI. They are allowed to get away with quoting "averages" when the truth is that a lot of members are required to pay 3 and 4 times the "average". Governments should require health insurance providers to itemise the increases in detail to see what some members are being asked to pay.
    Triss
    7th Mar 2018
    1:03pm
    Couldn’t agree more, OM. I have always maintained that the gap is the price they charged before private health funding came in and afterwards the health funding was treated as a bonus.
    Anonymous
    7th Mar 2018
    3:58pm
    The common factor here? Greed - this time from bloody medical specialists.
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2018
    7:55pm
    Have to agree with all your comments, OM. Gaps, greedy insurers and dentists are all part of the big mess in private health insurance. The Govt needs to get a big stick out and fix all 3 areas - somehow I can't see either major party having any guts to fix this total mess.
    invisible sock
    7th Mar 2018
    11:56am
    Strange how premiums rise every year but benefits don't.
    Rosret
    7th Mar 2018
    1:34pm
    Phone them. I saved by having them reevaluating my cover.
    Circum
    11th Mar 2018
    9:08pm
    Makes logical sense that the benefits rise at least by the CPI
    KSS
    7th Mar 2018
    12:42pm
    I note there is no suggestion from the ADA that dentists and and their suppliers could reduce their prices to reduce the economic burden on their patients. Rather this is another group who want bailing out by the Government and the taxpayer.
    john
    7th Mar 2018
    12:47pm
    Perhaps a good idea would be for dentists themselves to back off with the sometimes gigantic fees, dental specialists especially, but the private health funds are a profiteering cash cow and we all are beginning to see though it.
    TREBOR
    7th Mar 2018
    1:32pm
    And never forget that these private health funds are propped up by government subsidy.

    http://theconversation.com/the-multi-billion-dollar-subsidy-for-private-health-insurance-isnt-worth-it-76446
    Anonymous
    7th Mar 2018
    3:19pm
    My wife needed root canal therapy and the cost was $2350 spread over three visits. She asked if there was a discount for cash and the dental specialist didn't acknowledge the question. We got a 'phone cal about 5.00pm that day and were advised that if it was cash in a plain envelope that a discount of $400 would be granted.
    GeorgeM
    8th Mar 2018
    7:54pm
    Agree, john. Also, nowadays most health insurance companies provide for gap-free dental cleans, but guess what - they provide that service not by dentists, rather by the less-qualified hygienists - would you take your car to be repaired / serviced by apprentices?
    Jim
    7th Mar 2018
    1:15pm
    The returns from insurers for dental work might as well not exist, I am with a well known not for profit health fund, I recently went for a check up, clean and fluoride treatment, all which were recommended by the dentist, this was advertised as a gap free treatment, the dentist told me I needed further treatment, the first one was a small filling, the initial treatment was $370 the small filling for my next visit was over $300, my total annual allowance is $550, so just on those two visits my entire allowance was gone, the time I spent at the dentist was about 45 mins all up, so the two visits cost $670, I think that might give an idea as to what is wrong with the dental profession.
    KSS
    7th Mar 2018
    1:50pm
    Sounds like I got a bargain when I went a week or so ago. $280 for check-up, clean, fluoride AND an x-ray!
    Jim
    7th Mar 2018
    2:56pm
    Sounds like you did, I think the $370 I was charged for the gap free treatment, was to cover the gap they were not charging me, of am I just an old cynic?
    Circum
    11th Mar 2018
    9:20pm
    I remember when a filling cost $60 regardless of the size of the filling.These days its megabucks for each quarter of a tooth.Also these days I cant have treatment without anaesthesia.$1800 was the last quote so I said no.Sadly no health fund that I know includes cover for anaesthesia.The future does not look bright
    Rosret
    7th Mar 2018
    1:32pm
    We have lots of dentists in our area. I chose one very expensive and excellent dentist to repair my family's teeth. When getting a crown cost as much as a used a car I thought I would try out the new cheaper dentist.
    I took myself and the grandkids to the cheaper dentist and saved heaps - or so I thought. ALL the dental work had to be fixed at my favourite dentist so I ended up paying even more.
    So not being able to go to the dentist of choice is important. Going to the cheapest dentist in town is not the best solution.
    My rebate is an insult and the only reason i am keeping the optional extras is because I rang up my medical provider. My old cover was covering less than a new one they moved me onto. I just saved $30 a month! - Wouldn't it be nice if they could have sent me notification that my insurance plan was outdated and better deals were available.

    7th Mar 2018
    1:58pm
    Of course they’re fuming
    They want the taxpayer to fund dental so they can increase they’re already exorbitant fees
    Jim
    7th Mar 2018
    2:59pm
    Spot on
    Stevie Wonder
    7th Mar 2018
    3:45pm
    Gee some great deals some of you got, I went to a local dentist and all he done in the 5 minutes I was there was a check-up, clean, fluoride didn't think much of it as health fund covered it (I only have 7 teeth on the bottom) a week or so later the Health fund sent me the the paperwork saying that they had paid, I nearly had a heart attack the bastard had charged $480.00 I couldn't believe it needless to say both my wife and I will not be going back to this ripoff merchant. The government needs to pull these bastards into line and set realistic fees for service not only dentists but all medical professionals they are getting to greedy and holding us to ransom either pay or suffer.

    7th Mar 2018
    3:49pm
    The dentists should stop whinging. They gouge enough money out of people as it is - either directly or via scamming health-insurance companies who gouge their victims via premiums.
    Anonymous
    8th Mar 2018
    3:08am
    Hypocritical coming from an anti free market anti competition, government must do all socialist know nothing poster
    Anonymous
    8th Mar 2018
    1:13pm
    He's only agreeing with your comment above, Raphael. Seems to me you are the hypocrite here.
    Chris B T
    7th Mar 2018
    5:55pm
    Health Funds are in business to make money.
    Being on pension, low income card, health card etc can go on the Government Dental Service/ Oral Health depending which State you live in.
    There is a waiting list and conditions but a least you will be seen, for me it took 14months wait and with local Dentists not just Dental Hospitals.
    The sooner you go on it the sooner you will be seen. (Better Than Doing Nothing)
    saintagnes
    7th Mar 2018
    6:59pm
    I have been a patient of my fantastic dentist for almost 32 years. I have 2 inspections and cleans per annum. I have had a couple of small fillings and 2 root canals over the years. The most I have ever paid is $10. Normally it is NOTHING.
    He looks after my teeth - I am 71 with the exception of 1 extraction I have all my own teeth. My extras cover is the BEST part of my health insurance
    Circum
    11th Mar 2018
    9:35pm
    Do you mind telling us how much you pay in premiums and with what insurer Saintagnes?
    johnp
    12th Mar 2018
    3:41pm
    Yes, agree with Circum : Do you mind telling us how much you pay in premiums and with what insurer Saintagnes?
    Jack
    7th Mar 2018
    7:41pm
    I've changed from a "for profit" extras funds to a "not for profit" profit fund 6 months ago. My husband had dental work done when we were with the "for profit" fund. I reviewed the reimbursement I received with a "not for profit" funds by the reference No. and would have received double the reimbursement. Changed to the "not for profit" fund.
    Troubadour
    8th Mar 2018
    12:36pm
    Yes, they get money back from the Health Funds for being a provider and then WE still have to pay a fair amount on top of what we get back from our private health fund.
    *Loloften*
    14th Mar 2018
    4:27am
    Nothing new...Private health/extras, @ huge additional costs is the supply of quicker consultations/expensive tests et al b/c "they" want your refunds. Dilemma - is it worth it? I say yes, only b/c have family experiences of both.
    Kathleen
    7th Apr 2018
    4:53pm
    We buy the Smile cover firstly then private health extras then choose a dentist registered with smile. The bill starts lower with Smile then the private health card is swiped which should make the toothache less painful. With $1200 towards dentures when needed we will hold onto our private health cover. Just need to choose wisely. Smile costs $40 each a year and knocks a percentage off the top of the bill. It makes us smile despite the toothache lol.
    Alan
    3rd Aug 2018
    9:05pm
    Dentistry needs to be a part of medicine (it is in Thailand where I have just had some significant work done in a hospital there. English was OK and the dentists meticulous in their care). If need be the levy should be increased to cover a realistic level of fees for both dentists and doctors. I have private extras cover but am thinking that I am not getting enough benefit to keep it. I am 70 so no spring chicken.


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