Report of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health

Appendix F - Current Commonwealth Government Dental Programs

The National Advisory Council on Dental Health (the Council) was established as a time-limited group to provide strategic, independent advice on dental health issues, as requested by Minister for Health and Ageing, to the Government. The Council’s priority task was to provide advice on dental policy options and priorities for consideration in the 2012-13 Budget.

Page last updated: 03 September 2012

      Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS)

      The CDDS provides dental care for people with chronic diseases and complex care needs. Eligible patients may receive Medicare benefits of up to $4,250 per person over two calendar years for dental treatment.

      To be eligible for the CDDS, patients must have a GP Management Plan (Medicare item 721) and Team Care Arrangements (Medicare item 723) in place to manage their condition and must be referred to a dentist by their GP.

      A broad range of preventive and restorative dental services are available under the scheme. In 2010–11, expenditure under the CDDS was $726.4 million – increasing from $576.5 million in 2009–10 and $364.1 million in 2008–09.

      Medicare Teen Dental Plan (MTDP)

      The MTDP was implemented on 1 July 2008 and provides up to $163.05 per eligible teenager towards an annual preventive dental check, under the Dental Benefits Act 2008. Approximately 1.3 million teenagers are eligible for the MTDP each year. To be eligible, a teenager must, for at least some part of the calendar year:

      • be aged between 12 and 17 years; and
      • satisfy the means test for the program:
        • the teenager must be receiving either Abstudy, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment, Special Benefit, or Youth Allowance; or
        • the teenager’s family/carer/guardian must be receiving either Family Tax Benefit Part A, Parenting Payment, or the Double Orphan Pension in respect of the teenager; or
        • the teenager’s partner must be receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A or Parenting Payment; or
        • the teenager must be receiving financial assistance under the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme.

      In 2010–11, expenditure under the MTDP was $59.8 million – slightly decreasing from $63.4 million in 2009–10 and $66.7 million in 2008–09.

      Defence Personnel and Veterans

      Members of the Australian Defence Force and Army Reserve are provided with free dental services as part of their access to a range of health services. Dental services are also provided to eligible veterans but entitlements vary between White Card and Gold Card holders. A full range of dental services are available under these programs.

      In 2008–09, expenditure for dental services provided by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs was $103 million. The Department of Defence does not release figures on funding attributable to dental services for service personnel.

      Private Health Insurance Rebate

      The Commonwealth Government provides a rebate of 30–40 per cent on the premium charged to people with private health insurance.

      The rebate was introduced on 1 January 1999. Although the rebate is based on the health insurance premium payable, it is treated as a subsidy by the Commonwealth Government on the expenses incurred by individual Australians towards their private health insurance, including benefits for health services. In 2010–11, expenditure under the Private Health Insurance Rebate attributable to dental services was $555 million (which equates to $46 per person).

      The Commonwealth Government is legislating to introduce means testing for recipients of the private health insurance rebates. The means test would proportionally lower the private health insurance rebate for those in higher income tiers, and increase the Medicare Levy Surcharge for those on higher incomes who elect not to purchase a hospital product.

      Mr Adam Longshaw's view was that since general treatment policies, including those that pay dental benefits, are not subject to the penalties associated with the Medicare Levy Surcharge, the impacts associated with downgrades or cancellations of these policies are likely to be greater than those modelled for the impact on the number of individuals who may drop or reduce their hospital cover. Should this occur, Mr Longshaw considered it will adversely impact dentistry for those individuals and subsequently lead to increased personal costs for dental care. This view was not shared by the majority of the Council.