Dentistry and the Senate inquiry into the conduct of Private Health Funds

Currently there is a Senate Enquiry into the Practice & Conduct of Private Health Insurance (PHIs) companies in Australia. On Facebook I came across a timely video rant from Labour Senator Sam Dastyari on this very important matter.

In past blogs of mine, I too have ranted on about the conduct and negative interference of PHIs into the needs of individual Australians. PHI companies in Australia seem to ‘dictate’ treatment needs via their ‘business rules’. These ‘rules’ are always quoted, but can ‘never’ be found or accessed by the public. It quite obvious that PHI companies are mostly concerned with making money for shareholders rather than care for their members.

Don’t get sucked in too by the funds that claim to be ‘not for profit’ or ‘mutual funds’, they too are profit driven. The difference between these funds and the stock exchange listed funds with shareholders is where and to who the company profits are distributed.

The biggest problem I have with PHI is the ‘Preferred Provider’ & ‘Members Choice’ type schemes they run.

When I was young (many years ago) the motivation for having private health insurance was that a member could really choose the dentist, physio, optometrist, podiatrist etc. who they wanted to see. These PHI schemes that promise ‘no gap’ or ‘reduced gap’ treatments do not regulate the standard of care delivered to their members by these ‘preferred /contracted’ practices and there is no way of knowing the experience or skills of the providers in who’s hands you are about to place your pearly whites, twinkle toes, sparkling eyes etc. The selling point and motivation is purely COST.

Only this morning a patient of mine mentioned that she had been told by a friend that she ‘over spent on her dental treatment and could have had it done cheaper’……fortunately my patient is an intelligent woman who replied to her friend “you pay for what you get”… how true. Jokingly, I responded “yeah… that’s the sort of person who would shop around for a cheap cardiologist to place a Chinese Stent”.