While most medical issues in Australia are covered by medicare, it can be hard for people on a limited income to access dental care. Here are some of your options if you are on a low-income and require immediate dental care.
Walk-in dental clinics
Many larger cities around Australia have walk-in clinics that can be accessed by people who are very poor, such as those who are on the street or in otherwise vulnerable situations. While Medicare subsidised clinics may require formal identification processes, some walk-in clinics are run by volunteers and funded by contributions. They usually work on a 'first come, first served' basis and encourage people to pay as much as they can. Be sure to let people at these clinics know if you have complicating factors such as drug addiction or infectious diseases so that they can tailor treatments that keep yourself and the staff as safe as possible.
Medicare subsidised dental
For people who receive certain government benefits such as Family Tax Benefits or Veterans Benefits, it is possible to get some dental treatment covered by Medicare. People who have medical disabilities which are exacerbated by dental issues, such as diabetes, can also access subsidised dental treatments through Medicare. Not all dentists accept direct payment through Medicare, so it's a good idea to check what subsidies you are eligible for through the Medicare program and check these with Medicare before you book an appointment with a local dentist.
Extended payment plans
If you need extensive dental care but cannot afford it straight away it can be worth discussing this with your dentist. Dentists can often offer you an extended payment plan where you can make regular payments over the long term, particularly when you need extended care. Be sure to ask for the payment schedule to understand what, if any, interest is being charged if this program is being offered under an external debt provider. Some payment plans can affect your ability to apply for other forms of credit including credit cards and mortgages if this is offered through an external loan provider. It can be a great option if you need care immediately, as it can often be cheaper to get early intervention, but it is a good idea to be fully aware of the consequences if you do opt for this option.
There is a range of options that can allow you to get dental treatment on a limited income. Chat to your local dental clinic to work out which is best for you.