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Greens announce vision for 'Denticare'
Media Release 7/11/11
Greens announce vision for ‘Denticare’ Australian Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown, and Greens’ spokesperson for health, Senator Richard Di Natale, launched the Greens vision for dental care today. “The Greens’ Denticare initiative is a 5 year plan to bring dental care under Medicare, starting with the most needy,” said Senator Di Natale. “The cost of dental treatment has created an oral health crisis in Australia.” More than half the population has poor oral health and a third of Australians report not going or delaying visits to the dentist because of the high outâofâpocket expense. “There is no reason for our mouth to be treated differently from the rest of our body. “Poor dental health can have a negative impact on nutrition, sleep and a person’s chances of obtaining employment or rental housing “Neglecting the dental health of Australians is an economic problem, a health problem and a social justice problem. The Greens’ Denticare vision is the solution. “The Greens made dental health a priority by including it in our agreement with the Labor government, and will be campaigning for our vision all over the country. “The next budget is an opportunity to take an important step towards a big and overdue reform. ”We will be pushing for the first stage of Medicare funded dentistry, significant investment in the public dental system and expanding the oral health workforce. “We hope the government has the vision to work with the Greens on this important national reform.” Media contact: Andrew Blyberg 0457 901 600
Denticare Fact Sheet
The dental crisis
â¢ Australia’s oral health is poor. Less than half of all Australians have good oral health and dental visiting patterns.
â¢ A third of people say they can’t afford to go to the dentist, or delay going to the dentist because of the cost.
â¢ This results in an unnecessary burden on the health system. 7â10% of GP visits are due to poor dental health.
â¢ More than 60,000 hospital visits a year are caused by dental problems.
â¢ An estimated 500,000 people are on waiting lists for public dental care, with average wait times of 27 months as in some cases higher than 5 years.
â¢ Low income earners, people in rural and regional areas, and indigenous Australians have worse dental health. For example, between the ages of 16 and 20, indigenous Australians have 8 times the nonâindigenous rate of decay.
Denticare - The Greens’ plan to bring dental into Medicare
1. Dental treatment covered by Medicare. Phasing in over five years, Medicare will cover preventative and restorative dental treatment so that everybody can afford to go to the dentist. 2. Starting with the most needy. Low income earners, kids and teens, pensioners and those with chronic disease will be among the first to access dental treatment under Medicare. 3. Investment in the public system. Injecting muchâneeded funds into the public system to
decrease waiting list and revamp school dental programs. 4. Training the dental workforce. To ensure that Australia has enough dental health professionals in the places they need to be, increasing investment in dental training and placement.
Dental care - who pays
â¢ About $7 billion is spent on dental care every year in Australia. More than 60% of this is outâofâ pocket expense for individuals, versus just 12% for medical expenses and 3% for hospital expenses.
â¢ The government contributes $426m per year toward dental care for higherâincome earners via the private health insurance rebate.
â¢ Complications from untreated dental disease already cost Medicare $350m a year and the hospital system at least $100m more. It is estimated that up to $2 billion in lost productivity is attributed to untreated dental disease.
â¢ About 90% of dentists are in private practice, with only 10% in the public system. The public system only sees about 12% of eligible people each year.