New Dental Fee Guide Fails to Tackle Affordability Issues
After waiting for 20 years for a public Dental Fee Guide, Albertans will only see a 3% reduction of the fees currently being charged by dentists in this province. "For years Albertans have been paying almost double of what the rest of Canadians pay for dental services. A mere 3% reduction being proposed will do nothing to address the issue of affordability which currently prevents Albertans from accessing dental care," says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director with Friends of Medicare.
The Alberta Dental Association used to publish an annual fee schedule, but it stopped in 1997. The idea was to open up the market to competition but it was hard for patients to make informed decisions. "A public fee guide will allow patients to have information regarding the suggested fees being charged by dentists across the province, however it does not translate into dentists necessarily following the suggested fee guide," states Azocar. "It will not regulate prices, and it will not address the issue of affordability and accessibility".
Dental health is an important and integral component of our general health status. Poor dental health is associated with adverse health-related quality of life components and there is strong empirical support linking poor dental health to diabetes, coronary heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and pneumonia.
Friends of Medicare are calling on the government, Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman and the Alberta Dental Association and College to take direct action to address this critical health issue. "It is time that we treat oral and dental care with the same importance as the rest of our body parts. There needs to be a stop to any policies that further promote the exclusion of dental care from our health system," concludes Azocar.