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

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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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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 48
  1. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

  2. 0

    … including apparently never-ending government/taxpayer subsidies.

  3. 0

    .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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      Yup – can’t be expected to get hands dirty under a greasy and oily car.

  4. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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!

    • 0

      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!

  5. 0

    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.

  6. 0

    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.

  7. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      The common factor here? Greed – this time from bloody medical specialists.

    • 0

      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.

  8. 0

    Strange how premiums rise every year but benefits don’t.

  9. 0

    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.

  10. 0

    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.

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