Most families eligible for child dental rebate refuse to take bite

10 June 2021

Professor Luke Connelly from UQ’s Centre for Business and Economics of Health was interviewed by Brisbane Times about low-income families missing out on $1000 in dental benefits.

Almost 70 per cent of low-income families are not claiming up to $1000 in child dental benefits they are eligible for.

The federal government has a standing rebate of up to $1000 worth of treatment over a two-year period for children aged two to 17, including examinations, X-rays, cleaning, fillings, root canals and extractions.

University of Queensland economics expert Professor Connelly said their study found just 31.4 per cent of families took up the offer.

“The families who actually took up the benefit were accessing it fairly regularly – the average number of visits was about two a year, which is how it is designed to work,” he said.

“It just seems a shame that families who appear to need these services the most aren’t getting them when they’re available.”

Professor Connelly said the study identified two risk factors that further reduced the rate for certain families: if the mother had a mental health condition, or if she had “riskier lifestyle choices” such as smoking.

“If you add those risk factors together, the take-up dropped a further 10 points to just 20 per cent,” he said.

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