The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates that while Australian health consumers are satisfied with their experiences with dentists, cost remains a significant barrier. The ABS report 4839.0 Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2010-11 noted that just over one in four persons who needed to see a dental professional had delayed seeing or had not seen one in the previous 12 months because of the cost (26%). This is a marked reduction from the 35% of the population found in the 2008 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) report Trends in access to dental care among Australian adults 1994-2008.
“While the ABS report confirms yet again that while the vast majority of Australians are satisfied with the dental treatment they receive, some continue to struggle to access dental care. Governments need to address this target funding and policy priorities to these needy groups,” said Dr Shane Fryer, President of the Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA).
The favorable reduction in Australians being unable it access dental care due to cost is no doubt in large part attribute to modest increase in dentist’s fees over recent years. The ADA’s Dental Fees Survey 2011 surveyed its dentist members as to their usual representing 88% of all service items provided by dentists in Australia.
The Survey found that annual fees increased 1.9% overall for all items surveyed.
“The ADA Fees Survey 2011 results indicate that dentists are doing what they can to manage dental fees despite the increasing administrative burdens that are being imposed. While overheads remain high for dental practices, the 1.9% increase is well below the 3.7% to 5.6% increase in health costs,” added Dr Fryer.