This Issues Brief focusses on funding reforms for public dental health services that will be required to achieve value-based health care in Australia. Using Dental Health Service Victoria’s (DHSV) learnings from a value-based health care implementation and funding model reform, this brief draws on local and international examples that provides the rationale and evidence for funding reforms that maximise value and outcomes for patients, government and the health system.
In Australia, there exists a persistent tension between the equity goal of assuring universal access to oral health care and the efficiency goal of assuring prudent use of health resources to achieve the best outcomes that offer the best value for money for the patient, funder and health system.
While efficiency involves the allocation of available resource inputs in a way that provides the best outcomes for the community, health inequalities will exacerbate if the current funding strategy continues to solely focus on volume-based treatment to more people.
Past Commonwealth funding reforms have assisted in shortening the public dental waitlist to an extent. However, they have had no benefit in improving oral health outcomes of the population. Rather there has been significant growth in oral health expenditure that far exceeds the Commonwealth budget for oral health service delivery.
Re-orienting the current fee-for-service public dental funding model to support outcomes and value within the available Commonwealth resources and current funding arrangements between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments will improve the stewardship provided by governments.