Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Federal dental care plan: Ottawa opens the door to 'dentist shopping'

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Government sources confirmed to Radio-Canada that even people whose family income is less than $70,000 n 'will have no guarantee of free. (Archive photo)

  • Estelle Côté-Sroka (View profile)Estelle Côté-Sroka

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The federal government does not ;will not prevent dentists and other oral care professionals from charging additional fees to persons eligible for the new dental care plan.

Government sources confirmed to Radio-Canada that even people with a family income of less than $70,000 will have no guarantee of free access.

However, in a letter sent to people eligible for the plan, of which Radio-Canada obtained a copy, the government does not indicate that additional fees could be charged. Uninsured Canadians with a net household income of less than $70,000 will not have to pay a co-pay, it says.

A co-payment is a percentage of fees established by the Canadian dental plan that is not covered and that Canadians will have to pay directly to the care provider.

The federal government will agree to reimburse only a proportion of the rates that it has established itself, that is to say its rate scale. That of the federal government will be different from those of the provinces and territories.

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Government sources confirm that oral care professionals will be able to add fees to the bill from their patients.

Professionals are strongly discouraged from billing beyond the rates established in the Canadian regime. Additional fees are discouraged.

A quote from Federal Government Source

Our goal is to make care accessible, we know that cost represents a significant barrier, that's why we encourage people to ask dentists if there will be unknown or additional costs beyond the scale. federal tariff, insists a government source familiar with the matter in Ottawa.

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Professor of public policy at Carleton University, Marc-André Gagnon, believes that the establishment of reference rates by the federal government may make some professionals uncomfortable.

It's clear that some dentists will feel less comfortable about this, because we are able to question their practice and their costs, says this policy specialist health and insurance plans.

We provide a tool so that people are able to compare how much the federal government says it should cost versus how much [charges] my personal dentist.

A quote from Marc-André Gagnon, professor of public policy at the University Carleton

Mr. Gagnon believes that the establishment of federal rates could push some patients to shop around for their dentist. We are sending flagship economic incentives so that people start to question what could be relatively high fees from certain dentists, says the professor.

< p class="Text-sc-2357a233-1 imohSo">For some people this cost becomes prohibitive and yes it puts pressure on dentists.

A quote from Marc-André Gagnon, professor of public policy at Carleton University

It will ultimately be up to dentists to justify these additional costs to patients, analyzes Mr. Gagnon. It is certain that there will be resistance from dentists, he adds, emphasizing that several of them are also entrepreneurs.

Marc-André Gagnon emphasizes that Ottawa is not setting up a real public plan, because it is intended only for a few people based on specific criteria. He also deplores that the government does not give itself the means to tackle the roots of the problem which is the dynamic of abusive fees, which has existed for decades.

The federal government has just unveiled a fee schedule for the year 2023, in order to give oral care professionals an idea of ​​the costs it will reimburse.

However, federal rates for 2024 have not yet been determined by Ottawa. Government sources assure us that these fees will be established before the reimbursement process of the new insurance plan comes into effect in May.

Although the government wants to publish this fee schedule quickly, it may not be ready for the date on which dentists and other oral care professionals can register as participants in the plan.

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Federal rates for 2024 have not yet been determined by Ottawa. (Archive photo)

They could then have to make their decision without knowing what rates will be reimbursed by Ottawa. Government sources assure that everything has been optimized to have the greatest number of professionals registering for the program.

In a news release, federal Health Minister Mark Holland says Ottawa is committed to ensuring oral health care providers have the information required to participate in the plan.

Sources working for the federal government say the dental plan required a lot of work from civil servants to meet the deadline. We had limited experience and we had to arrive on time for a date, we were told to justify the way in which the new dental insurance is deployed. Elders and denturists have shared many criticisms and questions about the diet.

Obviously, we couldn't put the plan in place overnight with 9 million people to insure.

A quote from Federal Government Source

The establishment of the Canadian Dental Care Plan was a condition imposed by the New Democratic Party of Canada to support the minority Liberals in key votes in the House of Commons.

The government estimates that nearly 9 million Canadians will be able to benefit from the new dental insurance.

With the collaboration of Louka Jacques

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