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Greens want Medicare dental benefits extended

7 November 2011 - 3:49pm

The Greens are moving to allowing dental care to be increasingly covered by Medicare, after an announcement today (November 7).

In their campaign to the federal government, a five-year program to phase in dental coverage has been outlined, beginning with an initial cost of $1.5 billion in next year's budget.

Low-income earners, children and teenagers, pensioners and those with chronic diseases would be the first of those without private health insurance to benefit from the Denticare scheme.

Once fully established the scheme would cost up to $5 billion a year, covering both preventative and restorative dental treatment.

Medicare currently funds a scheme for people with chronic conditions - providing up to $4,250 for treatments - but now costs almost $2 billion a year.

The Medicare Teen Dental Plan was also introduced in 2008 to help with the cost of an annual preventative dental check for eligible families.

However, for those unable to access government benefits for dental procedures, private health insurance can cover a significant amount of costs.

Dental claims accounted for the highest percentage of payouts from health insurance companies in Australia in 2010 - a total of $1.6 billion.