Awareness and implications of the private dental insurance rebate

A Puzio*, JF Stewart, KD Carter, AJ Spencer

Dental insurance is associated with dental attendance patterns and service provision. This study examines knowledge of insurance rebates, post-rebate uptake of private dental insurance and the subsequent use of dental services within the Australian population. The study uses population level data collected in the 1999 National Dental Telephone Interview Survey (dentate; aged 18+years; n=5,729). Private dental insurance was higher among non card-holders (40.1%) than card-holders (20.3%) and was strongly associated with income (p<0.001). Of those insured, 91.2% had been covered for more than two years (pre-rebate). 6.4% of insured card-holders took up insurance during 1998; 6.1% of insured non card-holders during 1999. Over 80% were aware of the rebate, but the rebate was not a factor for taking up dental insurance for 65% of those that took up from 1998 (ns). The rebate was a significant factor for retaining dental cover for 13.4% of participants insured 2+ years (18.4% of card-holders, and 23.9% of the <$20,000 income group). Among the participants that took up dental insurance from 1998, 77.7% reported that they have a regular dentist and over 80% reported that insurance did not cause them to increase the frequency of dental visit or the acceptance of dental treatment. Rebate did not seem to make substantial impact on uptake of dental insurance, frequency of visits, or acceptance of dental treatment.

Presented at the 33rd Public Health Association of Australia Annual Conference, 23-26 September 2001, Sydney, Australia

Note: * indicates presenter

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