The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is urging consumers to "carefully consider the worth of private health cover for extras cover", amid ongoing premium increases.
According to the ADA, over the period 2000-2009, average private health insurance premiums rose by 52.82%, whilst the CPI increased by 31%.
Despite this significant increase in premiums, benefits returned to patients with extras cover have declined and the gap between how much a patient pays for their private health insurance and how much the insurer will refund has increased.
For example, figures released by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) revealed that in 1999, there was a gap of approximately 46% between the two. The gap in 2009 increased to 51 per cent.
As more than 71% of the health insurance market is now 'for profit' and private health insurance funds are permitted to alter the premiums of their policies on an annual basis, it is expected that the gap between premiums and rebates will continue to rise.
In a recent paper by the ADA, the association concluded that "the statistics would suggest a marked deterioration in the actual worth of having such cover".
With Australians still suffering the consequences of the GFC and budgets remaining tight, it is likely consumers are already questioning the worth of extras cover and are looking for alternatives.
Many are already turning to NobleDentist, Australia's fastest growing dental cover and finding that they can make significant savings on their dental treatment, without compromising the quality of care.
Founder of NobleDentist, Dion Kramer, said membership quadrupled in 2009 and is expected to quadruple again this year as consumers realise the significant savings they can make.
"NobleDentist is based upon the dental plan concept that is highly regarded in the United States and United Kingdom, where more than 100 million people are members," Mr Kramer said.
"As it is not health insurance, members pay a low annual fee and are not restricted by waiting periods, annual limits and treatment exclusions, meaning increased patient numbers for dentists and better treatment acceptance.
"Patients with private health insurance can still receive their rebate, while also paying the reduced NobleDentist fees."
The NobleDentist process is uncomplicated. Members receive reduced dental fees and participating dentists receive their full payment in accordance with the NobleDentist Fee Schedule immediately after each appointment.
"The feedback we are receiving is extremely positive from all perspectives as dentists receive more patients and patients are benefiting from reduced dental fees.
"A key reason consumers take out extras cover is for dental care reasons and until now, Australians had no quality alternative to private insurance so had tolerated rising premiums and larger gaps.
"We're delighted to be able to offer the people a quality alternative that saves them money, whilst also assisting dentists by attracting new patients to their practice that are motivated to receive treatment."
Mr Kramer said the demand that NobleDentist was currently experiencing was testimony to the long overdue need for a quality dental plan in Australia.
"In the past 12 months the number of participating dentists has tripled and we now have participating dentists in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and some regional areas of New South Wales," he said.
"Within the next 12 months we aim to increase the number of participating dentists to meet growing demand."
NobleDentist is currently accepting applications from dentists wishing to participae. There is no cost to become and remain a participant of NobleDentist and selected dentists will secure the opportunity to exclusively service their area.
"We welcome applications from quality and ethical dentists that would like to retain and attract more patients and improve oral health in Australia," he said.