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Monday 12 December 2016

The high and growing cost of accessing health services is the number one reason that people experiencing or at risk of poverty and their families are unable to improve their health according to the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).

A new report from NCOSS surveyed 400 low-income earners from Sydney and regional NSW to understand their experience of accessing health services in NSW and their priorities for action.

NCOSS CEO Tracy Howe said when asked their top priorities for the State Government to take action on, low income earners nominated health as the number one issue, with affordable dental care the top priority for budgetary investment.

“NSW is one of the most expensive states for dental care, with the average cost of a dental visit which includes a dental examination, two X-rays and a scale and clean service sitting at just over $200.

“Yet we know the affordability of going to the dentist has both personal and system-wide implications, with dental conditions the third highest reason for acute preventable hospital admissions in Australia.

“When we asked respondents about their top priority in a list of actions the NSW Government could take that would make a real difference to their lives, 67% of respondents said that access to timely, affordable dental care would make a big difference to themselves and their families.”

Ms Howe said when asked what was stopping people from improving their health, cost was the most frequently identified barrier.

“Australians pay more out of their own pockets for health treatment than most other OECD countries.

“People on low incomes are more likely to experience a broad range of chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, poor oral health and some cancers but they are least likely to be able to afford to treat these conditions.

“This has a huge impact on their ability to remain independent with people experiencing poor health also likely to experience a loss of income because they can only work shorter hours or not at all.”

Ms Howe said the NCOSS Pre-Budget Submission recommended investing an additional $25 million per

annum into oral health services in NSW.

“Too many people in NSW simply don’t have access to the dental services they need. Given the broader health implications of poor dental health we can’t afford to let this problem continue further.”

Download the report.