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After much back-and-forth in 2016, the Australian CDBS will remain as commenced in 2014, offering eligible children a rebate of A$1,000 on dental care costs every two years. (Photograph: Nina Buday/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Mar 10, 2017 | News Asia Pacific

Australian Child Dental Benefits Schedule remains unchanged

Post a comment by Dental Tribune International

CANBERRA, Australia: Amid fierce criticism from dental groups and the opposition, the Australian government has decided to retain the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) at its full rebate amount of A$1,000. Initially, the government planned to terminate the scheme completely according to the 2016–17 budget released last May. In December, it then announced that the scheme was to be saved, but with a watered-down amount of A$700 available per child—both propositions have now been abandoned.

The CDBS, which was introduced by the former Labor Party government and commenced in January 2014, allows low-income families to claim a rebate of up to A$1,000 per child every two years for dental care. However, at about A$312 on average, most families claimed less than a third of the full rebate in the past. “In light of this, the Government had previously set the cap at $700 per child over a two-year period, which would still allow children to visit a dentist regularly,” Minister for Health Greg Hunt said previously in a statement.

However, after both Labor and the Greens indicated that they would veto the change in the Senate, Hunt announced the reinstatement of the full rebate just hours before the motions were to be voted on in February. According to Hunt, the decision followed consultation with the Australian Dental Association.

Commenting on the move, Australian Dental Association Vice President Dr Carmelo Bonanno said it was a common sense decision by the government. “The reduction of A$700 meant that about 20 per cent of children were going to miss out if they were going to try and utilise the scheme fully,” Bonanno told ABC News.

Regarding the low amount claimed on average in the past, Bonanno reasoned this could be attributed to a lack of awareness of the scheme. “Improving people’s awareness of that means that there’ll be better utilisation of the scheme and the outcomes are going to be far better,” he said, adding that the dental association had already discussed the need for better marketing of the scheme with the government.

Estimating general dental care costs, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association calculated that children with the top 10 per cent highest need would be likely to require up to A$2,050 worth of dental work over two years and children at moderate risk would need up to A$1,123 worth of work. Keeping the scheme at A$1,000 would therefore help parents to continue to provide much-needed dental health care for their children, rather than delay treatment because of a lack of money, the association stated.

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