Costings for a Medicare-funded oral health scheme proposed by the opposition leader are "way off target", according to a leading health body.
According to Australian Dental Association president Dr Shane Fryer, the cost of the program proposed by Tony Abbott would cost closer to $13 billion per year – rather than the predicted $4 billion.
"He's not within coo-ee on the costing," Dr Fryer told the Australian Financial Review today (February 2).
"To achieve that budget, the suite of dental services provided will be too limited to be of benefit to the disadvantaged not getting the treatment they need now."
About 7.5 million Australians say they delay or go without treatment for oral problems often for financial reasons or lack of access, the ADA says.
Private health insurance may help to make dental health services more accessible for Australians.
Providers paid $1.6 billion for dental services in 2010, with dental benefits accounting for more than any other type of general treatment.
According to the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, total expenditure on dental services in Australia in 2009-10 was $7.7 billion.