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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin June 2011
42 JUNE 20 11 The average cost of health insurance increased by 5.56% on 1 April this year following the approval of health insurance premium adjustments by the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon MP. This increase is only marginally less than the previous year's increase of 5.78%. "Once again, the gap between dental fees and average benefits paid to patients will widen," commented Dr Shane Fryer, Federal President of the Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA). "Despite substantial increases in the premiums charged over the last ten years, health insurers fail to pass on appropriate rebates as a percentage of cost of care to its customers. This situation must be rectified." Dr Fryer also questioned the insurance premium increase being set substantially higher than the health index increase which has remained below 5% over the last few years. "The 2010 ADA Dental Survey Fees Report demonstrates that the mean fee charged by dentists is being maintained well below the health services index (the measure of inflation for the health industry) at a rate of 4.8%", Dr Fryer reports. The picture is similar with the rebates offered for services provided to veterans and their families. Average increases in the Department of Veterans' Affairs schedule of fees for dental services remain steady at 2% -- less than average CPI, let alone the health index over the same period. Source for CPI/Health CPI Comparison to mean increase in ADA and DVA fees: ADA Dental Fees Survey 2010; Department of Veterans' Affairs (2010) Fee Schedule of Dental Services for Dentists and Dental Specialists (effective 1 November 2010), Australian Bureau of Statistics, CPI Tables December 2010. "The ADA is worried dentists won't be able to service veterans and their families if this discrepancy continues. Dentists are doing their bit to ensure that the Australian public has access to quality oral health services, it's time that the Australian Government and health insurers did likewise," added Dr Fryer. Figures from the Private Health Insurance Administration Council and those highlighted in the diagram below show there has been a significant rise in the number of dental services provided to people with private health insurance over the past few years. Source for General treatment services: Source: PHIAC -- Statistical Trends in Membership & Benefits Data Tables December 2010. Despite the rise in dental services, the benefits returned to patients (relative to the cost of care) have declined over the past decade. As the table shows, the average benefit paid to patients as a percentage of the cost of care for dental services has fallen from 54.5% in 2000 to 48.73% in 2010. This is more than a 10% decline. There is nothing that can justify this. PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE -- benefit paid as a percentage of the cost of service for Dental Services 2000 to 2007 Year Number of services Fees charged (cost of the service) Benefits paid for services Average cost of service Average benefit paid to patient Benefits paid as % of cost of services 2000 16,224,856 1,255,697,000 686,873,894 77 42 54.50% 2001 19,923,999 1,575,518,000 876,464,773 79 44 55.70% 2002 21,501,375 1,771,760,000 965,563,252 82 45 54.80% 2003 21,837,694 1,886,382,000 993,246,116 86 45 52.30% 2004 22,756,855 2,082,321,000 1,051,117,913 91 46 50.50% 2005 23,297,702 2,230,007,000 1,098,089,121 96 47 48.90% 2006 23,999,526 2,414,322,000 1,187,205,239 101 49 48.50% 2007 25,072,735 2,638,144,000 1,283,302,782 105 51 48.60% 2008 26,687,191 2,925,375,186 1,414,241,884 110 53 48.34% 2009 27,739,510 3,118,928,845 1,509,763,524 112 54 48.41% 2010 28,829,591 3,295,090,696 1,605,632,781 114 56 48.73% Source for Private health insurance -- benefit paid as a percentage of the cost of service for Dental Services: PHIAC -- Statistical Trends in Membership & Benefits Data Tables December 2010. Given that the rising cost of healthcare is the principal explanation for rising health insurance premiums, the ADA believes it is important for health funds to ensure that benefits paid as a percentage of the cost of care do not continue to decline as they have over the past decade. Source: National Dental Update, April 2011. The ADA National Dental Update is a monthly publication distributed to politicians and opinion leaders. Other issues can be viewed at www.ada.org.au Private health insurance premiums DENTAL REBATES national dental update
ADA News Bulletin May 2011
ADA News Bulletin July 2011