ADA hails health insurance inquiry


The Australian Dental Association played a pivotal role in a motion tabled last week to establish a Senate inquiry into private health insurance.

After close, behind-the-scenes collaboration over an 18-month period between the ADA (especially the ADA South Australia branch) and the Nick Xenophon Team, it was agreed the inquiry should cover a broad range of issues within its terms of reference—many of particular concern to the ADA.

The Senate inquiry has attracted the support of Labor, the Greens and the crossbench, and is expected to bring pressure to bear on the government to address major systemic issues in the private health insurance industry.

ADA President Dr Hugo Sachs welcomed the proposed inquiry, citing its potential to shine a harsh spotlight on a range of deleterious private health insurance practices.

“Not only are private health insurers failing to adequately increase their rebates for general treatment services, they use discriminatory rebates that make it harder for consumers to see the healthcare provider of their choice—interfering with their continuity of care,” he said.

“Common in private health insurance, discriminatory rebates offer higher rebates for the policy holder who sees a health provider who is contracted to that private health insurer; yet the other policy holder who pays the same premium for the same policy receives a lower rebate if they choose to maintain a relationship with their existing un-contracted healthcare provider.

“Discriminatory rebates make one policy holder have a higher out of pocket cost and effectively subsidise the other policy holder’s costs of seeing the practitioner who is contracted to the insurer. This also has the effect over time of driving out small business independent practices. It’s a triple whammy.”

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  1. I know the ADA is supposed to be there to support dentists but it would be nice of the federal branch could sometimes also have a consumer lens on its statements. Patients like these schemes as they given them certainty, the sort of certainty that they would like in other parts of the health system. We should protect and build on this rather than these overly aggressive attacks on insurers we always see from the leadership.

    Why is the ADA always so anti

  2. I don’t see how these insurance options are to the detriment of patients. Patients can decide it’s ‘Time2Switch’ dentists when they are unhappy with their treatment or fees. In fact complaints about dentists to AHPRA increased by 33.8% in 2015/16 (Dental Board, 2016, Media Release, 10 Nov). I recently quit my private dental insurance because of the risk it posed to overtreatment (excessive or unnecessary fillings, extraneous items). A few dental businesses have even asked for my insurance card up front (before consultation) and swiped it via HICAPS to see remaining benefits. Dental businesses should not be asking patients for their private health insurance status. Government solution: The public sector dental workforce should be expanded to provide basic patient-centred preventative care for all Australians.


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