Insurers welcome confirmation of record dental benefit outlays

Latest News

Private Healthcare Australia has welcomed the latest statistical report from the prudential regulator confirming a record level of dental benefits.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has issued its Quarterly Private Health Insurance Statistics update for the first three months of 2019.

According to the report, insurers paid a record $2.79 billion in dental benefits for the twelve months to March 2019. This represents a 4.4 per cent increase in dental benefits paid compared to the previous twelve months.

Dental utilisation rates and benefit growth rates in 2019 are greater than the average premium increase of 3.25 per cent, said Private Healthcare Australia.

Insurers funded 42.7 million dental services over the 12 months to March 2019, up 4.1 per cent on the previous 12 months, with dental benefits rising 2.6 per cent - 53 per cent of all ancillary claims are for dental services.

“In recent years health funds have played an increasingly important role in this area of healthcare but more needs to be done,” said PHA chief executive Dr Rachel David.

“While the PHI industry had concerns about the open-ended nature of the ALP pensioner dental plan, there’s no question that access to oral healthcare should be a priority for Government and health funds are willing to work with policy makers to achieve this in a sustainable and cost-effective way.

“Health funds have the experience and infrastructure in place to provide a more affordable and accessible dental health system. Health funds are contracting with dentists and vertically integrating with dental practices, thereby consolidating and creating economies of scale. This is driven largely by a need to standardise quality, increase transparency on services provided, and reduce out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

“Reform of the dental health sector should be a priority for policy makers and the focus must be on access, quality, affordability and tackling waste. This can be achieved by working with health funds who have the experience and infrastructure to deliver a better dental health system,” added Dr David.