CDBS may be facing the axe on 1 July 2016!
According to Sydney Morning Herald has indicated that health Minister Sussan Ley thinks that the means-tested scheme which targets children from ages 2-17 of low to middle income families was effectively using the funds provided and that think that “there may be a better way to target funding.”
The uptake of the scheme is relatively low due to the lack of advertising by the government as only around 30% of the children eligible have used the scheme as well as only half the money allocated in the budget for the scheme has been used.
For a bit of a background here is the summary of what the CDBS is and why I think it is important to retain it.
What is CDBS?
CDBS – Child Dental Benefits Schedule. Is a scheme that came info effect as a replacement for the old Teenager Voucher Scheme. The old teenager voucher allows any teenagers of a certain age (from what I remember 15-17?) to attend a dental clinic for subsidized cleaning/x-rays and check up. Any other treatment teenager needs to have done will be privately paid for by their parents.
The scheme extends both the age and treatment which can be done. So every 2 consecutive calendar years children whom are aged between 2-17 whom are eligible will be allocated $1000 for any of the following dental treatments in a private clinic:
- fissure sealing
- root canals
- partial dentures
Note that orthodontics/braces and crowns are not included!
Who is eligible for it?
The Department of Human Services has summarized it well:
To be eligible a child must be:
- aged between 2 and 17 for at least 1 day of the calendar year
- eligible for Medicare and
- for at least 1 day of the calendar year the:
|Child’s parent, carer, or guardian|
Eligibility may be affected if you go from receiving fortnightly payments to lump sum payments – if you have changed your Family Tax Benefit Part A payments, contact us about your Child Dental Benefits Schedule eligibility.
How does the dentist charge the CDBS and how do they get paid?
There are two main ways which we dentists can charge under the scheme:
- Bulk billing
- Non-bulk billing
Bulk billing means that whatever the government pays for the particular treatment, the dentists will accept the price and will not alter it according to the CDBS schedule guide which means that the parents will not have to pay out of pocket for their child’s treatment.
Non-bulk billing means that the dentist will charge their usual private fees while the government will still pay the same amount as what the schedule has described. This means that the parents will potentially need to pay a “difference” in the private fee minus the government payout.
They are laid out pretty clear with particular bulk billing and non-bulk billing consent forms.
Most dentist which I know of tend to do bulk billing for the kids, as most of the payout via the schedule is enough to cover their running costs and, it’s good to do the community a good service by lessening the financial burden of parents.
Has the community benefited from it?
I believe so, I mean a scheme which allows your kids to see the dentist as early as possible, get used to seeing dentists and doing more preventative treatment in helping kids not get dental decay is VERY GOOD as 80% of the Australian kids will have at least 1 dental decay during their childhood!
Personal experience with CDBS
The practices which I work at tend to bulk bill our CDBS patients. Most of the families and kids whom come to see us are very appreciative of what we are doing as dentists in helping their kids. Some will require a lot treatment than compared to other kids, but at least this scheme is allowing the parents to book their kids more freely in with us (less financial burden) and allow them to see us! It really warms me to see mum and dad bring their kids to the dentist as if it’s a regular family time such as going to the royal Easter show.
What does it mean for the kids and parents if the benefit gets cancelled??
Personally, I can see the following happening if the scheme gets cancelled:
- The mums and dads whom regularly take their kids to see us on a regular basis will suddenly stop taking their kids to see us
- Parents may start to think twice about whether to take their kid to see us unless the kid is in immense pain/swelling of their face
- And when they start to bring their kid they will require a ton of work to be done
- It will discourage the mums and dads to bring their kids early and let them have a good image/good habit of seeing a dentist regularly
Overall: bad for the parents, but especially very bad for the kids! It creates a barrier for the low to middle income families to encourage their kids for access to good oral health and education!
So what can be done to prevent this from happening?
For dentists, here is a quote from the Federal ADA about what they are doing about this issue:
The ADA is actively working to head off the threatened closure, and both CEO Robert Boyd-Boland and deputy CEO Eithne Irving will be meeting with a number of key politicians in Canberra on Wednesday to that end. You will be supplied over the next week or so with the tools to drive this point home to your elected representative so it becomes plain that concerns over the closure of the CDBS are shared by a wide cross section of the community
Over the next couple of weeks, we will get more information to drive the point to our locals MPs to say that do not close the scheme.
For patients, write to your local MPs to voice your concerns and tell them how it will impact your kids and your family!
I will keep you up to date as much as I can when more news are revealed.
News source and links
- Sydney Morning Herald about the potential axing of this scheme
- Child Dental Benefits Schedule information to patients from the Department of Human Services
- Child Dental Benefits Schedule information to health professions from the Department of Human Services