ADA says ACCC report falls short

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The Australian Dental Association has strongly criticised the annual report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on the private health insurance industry.

Although the report to the Australian Senate addresses some of the ADA’s concerns, president Dr Hugo Sachs said he was disappointed with the failure of the ACCC to sufficiently and forcefully highlight the negative impact of private health insurers’ anti-competitive behaviour on the dental sector.

“It has downplayed the significance of insurers’ actions on patients’ access to continuity of care, on their ability to receive value for money, and on the overall competitive aspects on the dental sector,” Dr Sachs said.

The ADA has urged the current Senate Inquiry to go further and bring much-needed attention to the damage health insurer practices such as discriminatory rebate practices, and corporatised dental practice models are doing to the oral healthcare of consumers and the practice of dentistry in Australia.

“For years, insurers have imposed a regime of discriminatory rebates,” Dr Sachs said. “If you want to maintain your relationship with your existing dentist who chooses not to be contracted to an insurer, you get less back on your claim even though you pay the same amount of premium for the same policy as another person.

“The model of corporate/insurer owned and run health services should not be permitted,” Dr Sachs continued. “There is a glaring conflict of interest. An insurer owns the practice, employs the health practitioner, determines the fee for the service at one end and also sets the rebate the policyholders get back at the other end, and is vulnerable to pressure from shareholders to deliver a return. Ultimately, policyholders stand to lose in the long term.”

Dental practitioners, patients and anyone else with any interest in the way private health insurers are negatively affecting dental care in Australia are strongly encouraged to lodge a submission with the Senate Inquiry into private health insurance.

Based on items sourced from the ADA website.

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