The report, Filling the gap: A universal dental care scheme for Australia suggests Australia should introduce a Medicare-style universal insurance scheme for primary dental care, calculating an extra cost of $5.6 billion a year, which could be paid for in part by a rise in the Medicare levy to be be phased in over 10 years.
Professor Heiko Spallek, Head of School and Dean at the University of Sydney School of Dentistry, contributed to the report saying "Reform is needed to ensure more equitable and accessible dental care in Australia" - pointing out that the biggest fear Australians have about visiting a dentist is no longer anxiety, but financial barriers.
Stephen Duckett, Grattan Institute’s Health Program Director, says “There’s no compelling medical, economic, legal or logical reason to treat the mouth so differently from the rest of the body. All Australians should be able to get the care they need, when they need it, without financial barriers."
Ten recommendations for how to achieve universal dental care are outlined in the report, which start with the Commonwealth announcing a 10-year roadmap, including plans to expand the dental health workforce, followed by incremental steps towards a universal scheme.
The Grattan Institute Report No. 2019-02, was written by Stephen Duckett, Matt Cowgill, and Hal Swerissen. Contributors included Deb Cole, Martin Dooland, Mark Gussy, MattHopcraft, Graeme Liston, Tony McBride, Tan Nguyen, James Robertson, John Rogers, Lesley Russell Wolpe, Heiko Spallek, John Spencer.