Dentist fees hold relatively stable according to latest survey results

Results from the ADA’s annual Dental Fees Survey, carried out between August and September 2018, are now available to members at Dental Fees Survey.

The survey, undertaken by ACA Research, summarises fees charged by ADA members in private practice as at 1 July 2018. In total, 1,740 valid responses were received, which comprised of 1,454 general practitioners (GPs) and 286 specialists. The proportion of members completing the survey using the automated de-identified data process available through Dental4Windows and PracticeWorks practice software increased this year to 303 members, up from 222 members in 2017. 

General practitioners 
The fees charged by general practitioners (GPs) remained relatively stable from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018 across 121 items surveyed. However, the change in fees over the last five years has shown a steady trend upwards, in line with the CPI. The accumulative year-on-year increase of fees over the last five years is 8%. 

Changes in fees charged by GPs vary across all different service categories this year, with the highest increase in GP fees noted for general (1.6%) but decreases noted for periodontics (-4.5%), preventive services (-0.4%) and oral surgery (-0.3%). 

State variations 
Similar to previous years, less than a quarter of dentists (23%) are reported to charge an hourly rate for their services and the average hourly rate charged is $469, a yearly increase of 4% from the previous $449 reported in 2017. 

In line with previous surveys, there were considerable variations in the levels of fees charged both within and between states. On average, GPs in Western Australia charged the lowest fees, while GPs in ACT and Tasmania charged higher fees compared to other states. However, due to the small sample sizes in the ACT and Tasmania, these results should be viewed with caution. 

On average, GPs in Victoria charged the highest mean hourly rate ($524), while their counterparts in South Australia charged the lowest mean hourly rate ($360). Generally, GPs in the state capitals charge a higher fee for the same item of service than GPs in the rest of the state. 
 
Specialists 
Approximately 11% of the active private practice sector dentists in Australia are specialists and 286 members who identified themselves as a ‘specialist’ are included in the survey results this year.  

Just over a quarter (29%) of specialists charged an hourly rate and the hourly rate has increased to $632 (from $539 in 2017). Specialists in New South Wales charged the highest average hourly rate ($684), while South Australia charged the lowest rate ($400). However, these results should be treated with caution due to the relatively small number of specialists included in the survey results. 

A full report from the survey is available, along with reports from previous years, can be found in the Members’ area at Dental Fees Survey

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