Dental expenditure dropping

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It all depends on how you count it.
It all depends on how you count it.

New analysis of the Australian Government’s budget papers by the Australian Dental Industry Association has revealed that the Government’s total expenditure on dental and oral healthcare services is set to drop by $556.7 million over FY2013/14.

The analysis includes funds used for the now-closed Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS), which was deemed too expensive and closed on 1 December 2012.

The ADIA analysis points out that this year’s budget provided money for a ‘waiting list blitz’ that channeled funds to state / territory governments to reduce their waiting lists. In August 2012 the Australian Government announced further reforms. However, these new programs are not scheduled to commence until 2014, creating a significant cut in total demand for dental services following the close of the CDDS.

The analysis subtracts the estimated cost of the CDDS and the Medicare teen dental scheme up to the 15/16 financial year from new funds set aside for the waiting list blitz, the new Child dental benefits schedule, the flexible grants program and more, and comes up with the drop in funding of $556.7 million for the current financial year. If the CDDS (which closed in December last year, so the cost is just an estimate) is excluded from the figures, it is a $424 million increase in spending.

Over the next two financial years, the estimated shortfall (assuming the CDDS was still in place, and growing) would be $13.5 million and $31.6 million respectively.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) collects and reports dental statistics, managing several large dental data collections. An AIHW report released during the past year shows that for FY2010-11 the nation spent some $7,800 million on dental care, with the expenditure coming from the following sources: $4,600 million (58 per cent) private / household consumption; $1,100 million (14 per cent) private health insurance; $900 million (12 per cent) direct Australian Government outlays; $700 million (9 per cent) from state / territory governments; and $500 million (7 per cent) via the Australian Government health insurance rebate.

According to the ADIA, it is the $900 million (12 per cent) in direct Australian Government outlays expenditure on dental and oral healthcare services affected by the changes to Australian Government policy. It is estimated that the cuts made by the Australian Government in FY2013/14 have the net effect of reducing the nations total demand for dental and oral healthcare services by around 7 per cent.

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