I was over the moon when I got a letter in the mail two years ago saying the Australian Government would foot the bill for my children’s dental care.
So you can imagine my dismay when I heard it was all in jeopardy…
Being part of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, which gave us up to $2000 for each child over a two-year period, meant as soon as my youngest turned two, he was off to the dentist with his older sister every six months.
This isn’t because I’m a dental hygiene freak, but because I wanted to make sure my kids got the best start to their oral health as possible. If the scheme hadn’t existed, I would have been sending them each year using my own expenses, so it really was a win for our family.
The visits for my youngest were just to familiarise him with the dentist, so he would sit in the chair, have his teeth counted and maybe get some water or air squirted into his mouth for fun. It was all about making the dentist less scary and it worked a treat.
My eldest had all of that in the past and at our most recent visit, the just-turned-five-year-old agreed to let our dentist do a proper clean without any hesitation. Winning!
Since it began at the start of 2014, the CDBS has provided $860.2 million in benefits to more than 1.7 million children.
It was our dentist who informed us that the CDBS would be wrapping up on December 31.
But as with a lot of government initiatives, it is not being wound up nor is its future secured.
Instead, it is hanging in this kind of limbo.
On April 23, 2016, the Australian Government Minister for Health Sussan Ley announced the Government’s intention to introduce the $2.1 billion Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme (caPDS).
An Australian Government Department of Health spokesperson said it was intended that the caPDS would replace the Child Dental Benefits Schedule and the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Adult Public Dental Services, giving “states certainty of future Commonwealth funding by enshrining this in legislation.”
BUT the caPDS has not yet been passed in legislation.
What this means, is that the existing children’s scheme will remain open “until further notice.”
The spokesperson said states would soon be advised of Commonwealth funding arrangements under the NPA going forward.
So, if you have had access to the CDBS, book your children in sooner rather than later as the goal posts might just be moved.