Posted May 02, 2018 09:21:20 A new study has found that dental care is not a cost-effective option for those on low incomes.

Key points:Researchers found the dental care cost of a family of four was $4,834 less than the cost of other healthcare optionsA study found the average family of three would need to spend $17,500 on dental care to maintain the same level of health in MelbourneThis study, which was published in the Journal of Health Economics, showed that people who are already earning less than $44,000 per year would need an average dental care bill of $17.5 per visit compared to $14.6 for the average person earning $80,000 a year.

Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) found the cost for a family in a low income region was $5,836 lower than for a similar family in Melbourne.

Key Points:Researchers from ANU and UNSW used data from the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Australian Health Insurance (AHI) database to analyse dental care costs.

They found people in low income areas would need a $17 dental care premium to maintain their healthIn the study, they looked at two scenarios where a family had dental coverage.

One was where a dental care provider was a local or regional authority and the other was where they had no dental care providers.

“In the first case, they would be expected to pay $17 for a single visit, while in the second, they were expected to have to pay only $4.7,” the researchers wrote.

“We found that, for the family in the first scenario, dental care was the most expensive way to obtain dental care, costing $7.1 per visit.

For the family living in the third scenario, it was the least expensive, with dental care costing $4.”

Dr John O’Brien from ANUB said the study demonstrated the importance of health and dental care for low income earners.

“For some people, the cost to maintain a high level of physical health is a significant barrier to accessing healthcare,” he said.

“The AHI dental survey data suggest that access to health care is a key barrier for low-income earners, with a significant cost to care for and maintain a healthy body.”

Dr O’Briens work with the Australian Dental Association’s Health and Wellbeing team and is a member of the National Committee on Dental Health.

“As health and medical outcomes continue to improve, and with Australia facing the first health budget surplus since 1991, it is imperative that people with low incomes have access to quality healthcare,” Dr O’Brion said.

Read more about dental care:Health Minister Peter Dutton said the findings showed a need for more dental services for low and moderate incomes.

“Dental care is one of the most important parts of your lifestyle, it’s a life-saving procedure that can reduce your risk of developing a number of diseases,” he told the ABC.

“I believe the dental sector is well positioned to provide a service to low income families and those who have been impacted by the Commonwealth’s changes to Medicare.”