Oral Health, Dental Insurance and Dental Service use in Australia

Health Econ. 2017 Jan;26(1):35-53. doi: 10.1002/hec.3272. Epub 2015 Oct 9.


This study uses data from the 2004-2006 Australian National Survey of Adult Oral Health and a simultaneous equation framework to investigate the interrelationships between dental health, private dental insurance and the use of dental services. The results show that insurance participation is influenced by social and demographic factors, health and health behaviours. In turn, these factors affect the use of dental services, both directly and through insurance participation. Our findings confirm that affordability is a major barrier to visiting the dentist for oral health maintenance and treatment. Our results suggest that having supplementary insurance is associated with some 56 percentage points higher probability of seeing the dentist in the general population. For those who did not have private insurance cover, we predict that conditional on them facing the same insurance conditions, on average, having insurance would increase their visits to the dentist by 43 percentage points. The uninsured in the survey have lower income, worse oral health and lower rates of preventive and treatment visits. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: bivariate probit; dental service usep; endogeneity; health service demand; private health insurance; simultaneity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Dental Care / economics
  • Dental Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Dental / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Oral Health / economics*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data