Nine in 10 older Australians want universal dental care

Nine in 10 older Australians want a universal dental care scheme.

Nine in 10 older Australians want universal dental care

Nine in 10 older Australians want the government to introduce a universal dental care scheme, according to the most recent YourLifeChoices Friday Flash Poll.

The poll, which asked 225,000 older Australians about whether ‘denticare’ should become an election issue revealed that 90 per cent are in favour of the Greens proposal to introduce a universal dental care insurance scheme similar to Medicare.

More than 60 per cent of them would vote for a party that promised to deliver such a scheme and almost half of the survey respondents rate it as an extremely important election issue.

“I will vote for the party that puts health (including dental care) at the top of the list. Too many people are missing out on treatment that they should be receiving and many of these people have paid taxes and medical insurance for years. Because of age and circumstances changing, many are now no longer able to afford private cover,” wrote YourLifeChoices member Hyacinth.

While over 65s can access publicly funded dental care, over one quarter of the respondents (26 per cent) weren’t aware if they were eligible. Just over one third (36 per cent) knew they were eligible yet over half of them had not accessed this care. Almost four in 10 (38 per cent) were not eligible for publicly funded dental care.

Quite possibly the most shocking finding of the poll was that 10 per cent of older Australians had to resort to performing their own dental work.

Other key findings of the survey included:

  • 41 per cent visit a dentist annually
  • almost half (48 per cent) do not have private health insurance
  • of those who do have private health insurance, 47 per cent say dental is not part of their cover
  • only 10 per cent of private health insurance holders have full dental as part of their cover
  • 73 per cent have their own teeth (ie: no false teeth or dentures).

It also seems that many older Australians accept their lot when it comes to dentistry costs, as evident in the one in three who bother to shop around for the best deal on dental care. As to whether dental tourism is an attractive option, 20 per cent would consider going overseas for affordable dental work.

“So many Australians are going to Thailand to get their teeth done on the cheap as well as all sorts of other surgeries. Their doctors and dentists are all excellent and their hospitals are so much cleaner than ours. Australian dentists charge too much and it’s hard to find one that can treat teeth without trying to rip you off with their poor-quality materials,” wrote Jackie.

YourLifeChoices member Aussie explains how dental tourism worked for her.

“I just did a root canal in Thailand and cost me $420 including medicines and a full final filling two weeks after the surgery. So cheap and all good – no infection. How much would you pay for this service in Australia? $1000? $2000? $3000 – or more? Overall will be a lot cheaper to do dental work in Thailand and in my case it’s all good – no problems at all. Of course, I did research to find the proper dentist because there are some shonky ones for sure,” wrote Aussie.

When questioned about the additional costs of going overseas for dental work, Aussie elaborated:

“Yes, there is extra cost for accommodation, food, etc. I stayed with my daughter in a three-star hotel for three weeks and had a great holiday and cost me about $4000 including the root canal and two extra fillings.”

Most members can’t understand why our teeth are considered a separate issue when it comes to being covered by Medicare.

“The functions of our body rely totally on how we prepare our food in the mouth before it is ingested. If the tools of trade are not working properly in the mouth, then we are all potential contributors to the enormous medical services bill that this nation carries,” wrote OL.

“We were given teeth to chew our food and aid digestion. How can Medicare exclude coverage for treating and fixing issues located in the mouth?” wrote Play Fairly.

“Yes, it should be included in Medicare like all other body parts. Why is the mouth any different? But it is not an election issue. There are far more important issues that need sorting out for all Australians. Not everything can be or should be spruiked as an election issue,” wrote KSS.

One member points out that adding dental to Medicare may be a band-aid solution, and the root cause of this issue is the high fees charged by private dentists.

“Nobody yet has drawn attention to the exorbitant fees charged by private dentists – far dearer than medical doctors. Perhaps if monitored more closely, we would not be considering ‘denticare’?” wrote Crikey.

The 10 per cent of those who do not consider dental care important enough to be an election issue are most likely not in the 10 per cent who have to perform their own dental work. As for the rest, the major parties’ health and dental policies could well be a deciding factor in this year’s federal election.

Are you shocked by the number of people who have had to perform their own dental work? How important is health and dental policy to you? While dental tourism can be an extremely risky proposition, after seeing Aussie’s dental tourism calculations and assessment, would you now consider going overseas for dental work (and a holiday)?



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    25th Mar 2019
    I think that what the dental profession is charging is the major issue here. About four or five years ago, my wife, due to problems caused by her Parkinson's medication was told she would have to to have all of her teeth removed. Best Australian quote for implants on the bottom and a plate on the top was in excess of $50,000.00. Did a google search in regards to other Australians traveling to Phuket for the same work, and after choosing what looked to be the best credentialed practice, went over there and she had it done for under $10,000.00. We enjoyed two weeks in Phuket, and apart from a couple of days after the extractions she was able to do most things she wanted to. These dental specialists all got their certificates either from top facilities in the USA or from Vienna and were highly professional. At this stage she has had no further problems with her teeth and doesn't expect to. We would recommend this to anyone who needs expensive dental work carried out.
    25th Mar 2019
    Know that one - got a rough quote from the dentist for $100k - can be done Offshore for $8900.
    25th Mar 2019
    I have lived in SE Asia for 8 years now and the medical & dental work here is as good, if not better than what’s given in Australia. Some of the facilities here put Australia to shame. I’ve had dental work and other medical procedures and no problems.

    I’ve been in several medical centres in Australia that you’d think were “backyard” operations. As for some of the “doctors”’ve got to wonder what position in the class did they graduate from. The certificate on the wall won’t tell you the guy only just scraped through with a pass mark.

    I personally know a few “quacks” in Oz that are barely smart enough to find their way to work each day.
    25th Mar 2019
    Home dentistry is an absolute last resort. If there is an abcess with pain and swelling a GP can provide assistance.

    Tooth extractions are quite brutal even when the dentist has to do them, especially when they have to take out wisdom teeth from way back in the jaw. Drill giant molars in half and pick out the pieces where they have broken off anyway.

    Removing teeth with string, pliers and a bottle of whiskey is the stuff of the wild west, but common enough in its day. They also had Opiates that came under different names to modern prescriptions, but no antibiotics on a commercial scale until about 1939.
    25th Mar 2019
    Hi Charlie, possibly you wee not party to the earlier discussion where a couple of members shared their experiences with "Water Pics," "Hydraulic Flushing" etc where you have a little machine producing pressurised water, (controllable by the user) that can remove all the debris in your mouth causing bad breathe and tooth decay, - these little economic devices also have nozzles for Plaque removal, surounded by thick bristles, use higher pressure, and also more but softer bristles for general clean.
    So if you can, - and you can, and every one can, remove your own plaque, brilliantly clean your own teeth, you, and I, will remove the biggest rip-off from local dentists so that they will have to start competing for the real stuff, lowering their prices to compete with Thailand, doing what they were really trained for.
    If you can use high pressure water to clean your car, house outside, pavings, etc, you can understand that much smaller, controllable sink edge size units can mildly 'water blast your teeth'.
    $250. for a 'clean' you can buy one of these units from $60. to $100. on E-bay, - no doubt more commercial higher price units are available, sorry I don't sell them, but am encouraging our little country town of Malanda' pharmacy to look at stocking them.
    This is real practical Home dentistry, - once upon a time you had to go to a dentist to get him to brush your teeth, Ridiculous, - now everybody does it themselves, - won't be long before we all use hydraulic flossing, - often quicker than brushing your teeth, and does such a far better job, - the first time you do it you understand why people kept their distance as little rotting compost piles are removed from between your teeth and your old fillings and your gums, - I had no idea until I did it the first time, - no wonder the young people stand back a bit, but they will nned not to so do if you are kind enough to them to use modern home dentistry.
    25th Mar 2019
    Lookfar - they've had waterpiks in the US for 30 plus years, don't know why they never took off here, finally you can buy them at Chemist Warehouse and as you said online.
    casper dude
    25th Mar 2019
    My husband and I travelled to Phuket for two weeks on a "Medical Holiday" two years ago and both had major full restoration jobs done in the amazingly smart Bangkok International Hospital in Phuket. The treatment, staff and service was just wonderful. We couldn't fault it and all done in just two weeks, no problem. Everything ran to plan and all appointments were fully organised in the Medical Holiday cost and staying in a very nice resort. Most of the work was carried out in the first week, the second week spent sightseeing. Our Australian costs for the work for both of us was quoted at about $75,000 for the two of us some 5 years ago now. We paid $25,000 to the wonderful hospital in Phuket, a quarter of what we would have paid here. Money very well spent. Even our own dentist here was very impressed with the work, though of course they don't agree with this course of action.
    25th Mar 2019
    All the dentist in our area come from overseas anyway so enjoy a holiday.We try to buy and use Aussie but some of our medical providers are just robbers no better than a used car salesmen.

    25th Mar 2019
    Dentists of course will resist any push for 'Denticare': it'll kill their cash-cow.

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