Accessing government subsidized specialist orthodontic services in Western Australia

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Abstract

Background. In Australia there is growing demand for dental services. This leads to more pressure on the oral health service providers, and in particular government subsidized dental care. Against this backdrop it is important that government dental services (rationed to health care cardholders) are provided equitably on a basis of need, not access. The primary hypothesis investigated in this study was that there would be an even distribution of patients referred for government subsidized orthodontic care across Western Australia when regionally adjusted for socio-economic status.Methods: Data were obtained as a de-identified waiting list for orthodontic treatment at The University of Western Australia. The data included all patients on the orthodontic waiting list as at December 2003.Results: Significant differences between ARIA categories were detected when all waiting list entries were distributed. However, the trend was towards more entries (adjusted for population) in highly accessible areas. It was found that people from relatively wealthy areas tended to be more likely to be on the waiting list than those from more disadvantaged regions.Conclusion: In summary, the results of this study indicate that there is an uneven distribution of demand for orthodontics waiting list positions across Western Australian postcode areas by remoteness (ARIA) and by socio-economic disadvantage (IRSD). The results suggest that demand for subsidized orthodontic care may be influenced by the general demand for treatment of that region and not on what would be expected to be an even need for treatment across all health care cardholders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-32
JournalAustralian Dental Journal
Volume51
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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