With so much attention being given to health insurance and the importance of proactive medical care, industry experts have criticized the lack of attention given to dental reform in Australia, saying that the current and past systems needed to be addressed to save the state a lot of money in the long term. And, for those who weren’t caught up in the rush to take out health insurance, here are some ideas as to what you should be looking to get from your health insurance provider.
Dental care in Australia has a long history of neglect, and goes back to Howard’s days when the Commonwealth Dental Program was axed, in his inaugural budget speech in 1996, and has never been put back. The people who were born that year, or who were babies and who relied on State dental welfare have now had a lifetime of neglect. A health economist estimates that approximately $2-billion is lost on preventable hospitalisations, loss of productivity and healthcare costs because of untreated and pre-existing dental problems.
Gillard’s reforms appear to have the ideal and objective of meeting the needs of all households by offering preventive, basic dental care but the program has some glaring shortfalls. One major area is the issue of co-payments which means the average low income family will need to fund the cost of care out of pocket. In dentistry, co-payments make up more than 60% of the $7.7-billion total spend on annual dentistry care and services. It is also estimated that as much as a third of Australians will fall into the “grey” area between private health insurance and the government schemes, just missing out on subsidies from both sides.
Analysts have put forward that a system focusing on relieving out of pocket costs for consumers would be of the greatest benefit. Low income households that can’t afford the co-payment and out of pocket costs are no more likely to seek medical treatment, and the reforms will have made a significant enough difference to them to have full effect.
In the more affluent parts of the country people have been insurance shopping, and we’re told that there are now more people than ever with hospital cover. For those who already have cover, now is a great time to doing some maintenance and making sure you are getting the best value for the money you spend. It’s important to do some checks every year on all your insurance to make sure that nothing is falling into the “grey” areas and that you really are covered. We all know that it’s an expensive insurance to have so it only makes sense, if you are going to be spending that amount of money, to make sure you are getting what you need out of it.
For those who are shopping for health insurance, it’s important to make sure you are getting the most from your provider. Make sure that the policy you take out actually matches up to your needs, and ensure that dental work is covered, otherwise you are wasting your money as you’ll have to come up with the cash for the things you really need when your policy doesn’t cover them. Also make sure you have a look at both premiums and excesses, which will differ based on your age, your state of health and the companies you get quotes from. Also check the waiting periods to make sure it is a viable investment, and the claim limit that applies. You also need to remember to be completely honest with your insurer and make sure you are disclosing all the relevant health information and personal data about any pre-existing conditions.