This publication presents findings on dental visiting and receipt of dental services by dental insurance status.
It uses information from the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey, 2010.
Dental insurance associated with proportion visiting
‘Dental insurance’ means private health insurance extras cover (also known as ancillary cover) that includes any form of dental cover. A higher proportion of Australian adults with insurance made a dental visit in the last 12 months (70.9%) than adults without insurance (48.3%). Adults who visited in the last 12 months made 2.3 dental visits on average, and this did not vary between those with and without insurance. This indicates that while insurance may have enabled access to dental care, it did not lead to a greater demand for visits once access had been obtained. A higher proportion of adults with dental insurance visited for a check-up (66.1%) than adults without insurance (50.2%).
Dental insurance related to more preventive care
A higher proportion of adults with insurance had scale and clean services in the previous 12 months (83.5%) than adults without insurance (63.6%). A lower proportion of adults with insurance had fillings (37.2%), than adults without insurance (43.9%). A higher proportion of adults without insurance had extractions (19.0%) than adults with insurance (10.4%). Provision of dentures varied by insurance status, with a lower proportion of adults with insurance receiving dentures (3.2%) than adults without insurance (6.3%). Insurance was associated with a different reason for dental visits and a different pattern of services that was more oriented to prevention and retention of natural teeth.
Similar visit and treatment patterns for cardholders and non-cardholders with dental insurance
Proportions of adults who made a dental visit in the previous 12 months were similar for Australian Government concession cardholders (see Box 1) and non-cardholders with insurance (68.3% and 73.0%) and for adults without insurance (46.4% and 52.1%). Average numbers of dental visits were similar for cardholders and non-cardholders for adults with insurance (2.6 and 2.2 visits) and without (2.4 and 2.3). Cardholders with insurance were far more likely than cardholders without insurance to have visited for a check-up at their most recent dental visit (61.9% and 40.4%).
Proportions of adults who had extractions were similar for cardholders and non-cardholders for adults with insurance (15.2% and 10.4%) and without (23.8% and 17.5%). Proportions of adults who had scale and clean services were similar for cardholders and non-cardholders for adults with insurance (81.2% and 83.4%) and without (57.3% and 67.4%).
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