ADA launches petition seeking an end to discriminatory PHI rebates

13 August 2019

The ADA has launched a petition, available through dental practices across the country, which aims to use “people power” to make the government act on the pressing issue of discriminatory private health insurance rebates.

The petition, which will be introduced into the Senate for debate with the express purpose of placing discriminatory rebates firmly on the healthcare agenda, argues that fairness needs to be restored to the PHI system which is manifestly inequitable. 

Ending discriminatory rebates, which offer greater rebates to consumers who opt to use the dentist suggested to them by their health fund (either employed by them or in a contracted arrangement with them) and penalise those who stick with their own dentist, is a priority issue for the ADA driven in part by growing concern within its membership over the influence of private health funds in the delivery of healthcare.

Prior to the federal election the ALP, if elected, promised to launch a Productivity Inquiry into private health care. If the Inquiry had occurred, it is likely that it would have included recommendations related to discriminatory behaviours.  In its absence, the ADA has launched the petition as a means of bringing further pressure on the government to act. 

The fight to end differential rebates is long and complex. While the answer might seem simple, persuading government that this is an issue worth tackling in the public interest is easier said than done. 

This is where the help of dental professionals, practices and the public come in.

Demanding change
The petition will call upon Parliament to amend the health insurance legislation and end discriminatory rebates based on the contractual relationships between health practitioners and health insurers. To be effective, the ADA needs to demonstrate that ordinary Australians, right around the country, are being financially disadvantaged by choosing their own dentist over a dentist with which their health fund has a contractual relationship.

While there is no magic number when it comes to presenting petitions to government, those with significantly higher numbers tend to get noticed and leveraged to influence change, and while it might seem antiquated, physical petitions carry a measure of credibility not afforded to digital petitions.

All practices have to do is print the official petition and ask every patient that walks through their door, every family members and friend and even practice staff, to sign it. They then bundle up their signed sheets and send them to the ADA who will collate and submit them officially to the Senate.

The petition is an opportunity for dentists and other dental professionals and practice staff to play an integral role in advocating for the rights of their patients and the dental profession as a whole and to start a real conversation with patients about the poor behaviours of health funds. 

If you have any additional questions about the petition, please email the ADA via [email protected]