The Australian government does not cover the costs of most dental services in the same way it does for other health services. Most dental costs are paid by patients. However, Medicare does pay for some essential dental services for some eligible children and adults. Australian government works with state and territory governments to fund dental services and improve dental health.
Treatment provided by public dental clinics includes emergency dental care and selected general dental treatments. Public dental care is only available to a limited segment of the Australian population. Adults generally must have a Centrelink health care card or retirement concession card to be eligible. Depending on the state or territory in which you live, dental treatments may be free or partial payment may be required for treatment.
Eligible populations in each state and territory of Australia, including contact details for dental services, are listed below. The initiatives of the new Labor government, the Adolescent Dental Plan and its proposed financial assistance for state public dental services, reintroduce specific financial assistance for dental care for young people and those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. The provision of pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not to authorize any form of civil conscription). Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Middle-Aged Adult Oral Health Status, AIHW Dental Statistics and Research Unit, Research Report No.
It is based on the principle of universality, that is, access to Medicare benefits is available to all Australians based on clinical need, not income or other socio-economic attributes, and is partially funded through a universal income tax. In July 2004, as part of a package of reforms to Medicare known as MedicarePlus, the government announced the introduction of limited Medicare benefits for patients whose chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes) were significantly aggravated by dental problems. The use of Medicare to deliver dental health checks to resource-controlled adolescents represents a significant change from a funding model that in the past has provided universal access based solely on clinical need, not socioeconomic status. The School Dental Service (SDS) provides free dental care to students ages 5 to 16 or through the end of Year 11 (whichever comes first) who attend a school recognized by the Department of Education.
But it remains to be seen how effective this change in the direction of the Commonwealth will be, in light of the chronic shortage of dental staff and the continuing delays in implementing the financial assistance package to states. The Australian Dental Association estimates that around 8 million of us are eligible for these clinics, but significantly less than we use them each year, with waiting lists for treatments longer than two years in some states. Under the proposal, funding will be redirected from AHDCI and made available to states and territories to help them eliminate backlogs from the public dental waiting list (according to some commentators, 500,000). National Health Strategy, Improving Dental Health in Australia National Health Strategy Background Paper no.
WA residents who live in remote locations without access to a private dentist can receive dental treatment at a public dental clinic. Prior Medicare benefits for dental services, although limited in clinical scope, were universally applicable, that is, they were not based on socioeconomic status. Additional eligibility criteria may apply for dental specialist services or dental services provided in a hospital. .