WARRNAMBOOL couple Derek Burn and Stephanie Mills are concerned the Medicare Teen Dental Plan is being rorted.
When their daughter recently went for a dental check at a Warrnambool dentist, they were initially charged $37 for the consultation that found she had no dental problems.
But when they presented the $166.15 voucher for dental treatment, which they had received from the federal government under the Teen Dental Plan, the dental surgery increased the charge for the consultation to the full $166.15 value of the voucher.
“That is about $130 that has been rorted from one visit,” Mr Burn said.
“They could have left her with a credit on her account.
“Our primary concern is that the Australian taxpayer is being ripped off.”
The federal department of Health and Ageing said there was no protocol under the plan that allowed any leftover benefit to be claimed as a credit by patients.
It encourages dentists to bulk bill but a private dentist had the right to charge the full amount of the benefit under the plan, a department spokesman said.
Under the plan, a benefit of up to $166.15 can be paid to an eligible patient for an annual preventative dental check, which includes an oral examination and, if required, X-rays, a scale and clean, fluoride treatment, oral hygiene instruction, dietary advice and fissure sealing. Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the couple’s experience with the charge imposed through the Teen Dental Plan was “worrying.”
Mr Tehan said there would appear to be much better ways of providing free dental benefits to eligible children than through the plan.
Its billing methods might be one of the reasons why it was to be replaced on January 1 next year by the Grow Up Smiling (GUS) program.
He said he intended to raise the couple’s concerns about the plan’s billing method with the new federal health minister..
The GUS program to be introduced next year will expand the age of children eligible for free dental care from 12-17 years to 2-17 years.
GUS will also expand the benefit amount and the services that can be provided to eligible children.
The total benefit entitlement will be capped at $1000 per child over a period of two calendar years.
The Medicare Teen Dental Plan was introduced in 2008. Those eligible for the plan were teenagers whose families received certain government benefits, such as the Family Tax Benefit (Part A) for at least part of the calendar year.