Australian charity backs calls for dental vouchers for seniors

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A charity in Australia is backing calls for dental vouchers for seniors.

The Benevolent Society is supporting Mayo politician, Rebekah Sharkie, in her quest to make dental care more affordable for older people. Ms Sharkie is launching a campaign for a new dental voucher, which would enable seniors in need to access up to $1,000 of dental work over a 2-year period.

Dr Kirsty Nowlan, from the charity, has called for all parties to consider a voucher scheme and to “commit to affordable basic dental services for older Australians.”

Speaking to reporters at Starts at 60, Dr Nowlan said that dental care is significantly more expensive than other health services and it doesn’t make sense for Medicare to be available for some services, but for older people to be relying on expensive private health cover to afford dental treatment. Research suggests that Australians cover almost 60% of the cost of dental care out of their own pockets, compared to just 17% of other health services.

Talking about the voucher scheme put forward by Ms Sharkie, Dr Nowlan said that this initiative would make routine dental care a lot more affordable for older people at a time when the cost of living is increasing year on year.

At the launch of the voucher campaign, Ms Sharkie said that the scheme would cost almost $1.57 billion, but stressed that it was required given the prevalence of poor oral health. Although the outlay is significant, regular appointments provide preventative benefits, and could reduce spending in the long-run.

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