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Dentists fear the “administrative burden” of the insurance plan dental

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From May 2024, low-income elderly people who do not have private health insurance will be able to benefit from free dental care.


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Earlier this month, the federal government unveiled its dental insurance plan, which will provide dental benefits to low- and middle-income Canadians without private insurance starting in 2024. However, health care providers are stepping up. ;worried about the consequences of the new regime on their workload and their remuneration.

For dental providers, many questions are left unanswered. For example, it remains unclear how dentists will register for the new program, how the billing process will work, how much Ottawa will be willing to pay for scaling, filings or extractions, and whether services will be equivalent to those currently offered by private insurance plans.

If our questions and concerns are not answered, I don't know not whether dentists will want to enroll in the program, said Dr. Brock Nicolucci, president of the Ontario Dental Association.

The latter draws particular attention to the public dental care plans for low-income children and elderly people set up by the provinces. In Ontario, some plans only pay 18% of the suggested rate, which is not very financially profitable for dentists, he says. This is a big concern.

Federal Health Minister Mark Holland says the $13 billion federal dental program will pay dentists fairly. Ottawa has also signed a $747 million contract with insurance giant Sun Life to help it manage the plan.

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The minister also explained that the Canada Dental Care Plan would follow a model similar to the Non-Insured Health Benefits for First Nations and Inuit (New window), a current federal program that covers certain health services, including dental care, which other provincial and private plans do not cover.

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Federal Health Minister Mark Holland announced the new dental care regime , on December 11, 2023 in Ottawa.

Nicolucci said, however, that even existing public dental programs that pay dentists require so much paperwork that dental clinics can't easily handle it, especially since they facing a staff shortage.

As for dental hygienists, the situation is also worrying.

We want to ensure that the administrative burden is reduced.

A quote from Ondina Love, Executive Director of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

Every week, dental providers meet with federal officials to hammer out details of the plan, and Love said hygienists have been told they will be able to enroll in the program in February. The devil really is in the details. This is what the government is working on at the moment, finalizing the price list and the services provided, she said.

Introducing a regime of this nature will invariably be fraught with difficulties, said Dr. Carlos Quiñonez, a dental public health specialist at Western University in London, Ontario.

Dentists talk a lot about the administrative burden of public dental care programs, […] but the fact remains that controls are necessary to make good use of public money .

A quote from Dr Carlos Quiñonez, dental public health specialist at Western University London

He said that despite the administrative and financial burdens of caring for these patients, he believes most dental providers will want to participate in the program.

According to Ottawa estimates, the new plan should pay for dental care for 9 million Canadians.

We must also remember that dentists, like dental hygienists and denturists, are health care providers first and business people second, continued Dr. Carlos Quiñonez.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Ottawa also pledged $250 million, starting in 2025, to create an oral care access fund, which would be used to reduce barriers to access to care for vulnerable people.

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Dental hygienist Rosemary Vaillant runs a mobile dental clinic that visits around 40 long-term care homes in Ottawa.

Dental hygienists, like Rosemary Vaillant who runs a mobile dental clinic that visits about 40 long-term care homes in Ottawa, said they hope the government will also fund preventative care services for people elderly, especially since they may have difficulty ensuring their oral hygiene.

Currently, Ms. Vaillant tries to ease the financial burden on her patients by sometimes splitting an appointment so they can afford to have their teeth treated. We do half the mouth, then they leave, and we give them another appointment to do the other half, she explains. [Because] I feel bad that they can't afford it.

John Kelso, 87, one of Ms. Vaillant's patients , said he is grateful that seniors and other vulnerable Canadians can benefit from free dental care.

Teeth are very important, a he declared. I am very happy to see all this. I wish this was the case a few years ago.

D' after a text by Marina von Stackelberg, fromCBC (New window)

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