The Canadian Dental Association read with interest your Oct. 12, 2018, article titled, A look at the drivers for curbing rising dental costs.

The CDA and every provincial dental association in Canada are concerned with the cost of dentistry. Each year, provincial dental associations develop fee guides that balance the cost of care with dental fees, knowing that many people have dental insurance, but approximately 40 per cent of the population do not. Both groups (i.e., insured and non-insured) want to maintain their oral health and both groups are taken into consideration when fee guides are developed.

Read: A look at the drivers for curbing rising dental costs

Although dental fees are often compared to the rate of inflation, a more relevant comparison is the increase in the cost of delivering health care. Dental clinics are mini-hospitals with highly skilled staff that deserve fair compensation for their work. The costs associated with building and maintaining these mini-hospitals is increasing at a higher rate than inflation, along with more regulation and human resources requirements.

Of all health-care professions, dentistry has been a leader in preventive care and can point to numerous studies that demonstrate Canadians are keeping their teeth longer and hence require ongoing care to maintain their dentition. Dentists are health-care professionals who are focused solely on the well-being of their patients.

Oral health is an integral part of one’s overall health. There is increasing evidence of relationships between oral health and various medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. The positive health outcomes from increased utilization of dental services should be applauded, and effective dental benefits plans are a part of these outcomes.

Dental networks are not the answer to reducing dental fees. To protect the public, Canadians need to maintain their right to choose and access treatment from their own preferred dentists and specialists. The savings from networks are driven by limiting the choice of providers (including specialists) and of treatment services offered to the patient. 

The CDA promotes educating the public on optimal oral health care, and such information is available on the CDA and provincial dental associations’ websites. We encourage all plan sponsors and insurers to promote oral health measures that will improve a person’s oral health and overall health.

The CDA also meets regularly with the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association to address various dental insurance issues and we will continue to be available for these discussions, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the oral health and overall health of Canadians.

Dr. Michel Taillon is the president of the Canadian Dental Association.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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Chris Pryce, CEBS:

This is some great insight. There is reference to staff requiring fair compensation for their work. Its been about 25 years and I don’r recall any firm I have worked for, or any that I have owned, ever giving a benefits quote to a dental office, or having a dental office as a group client (Yes, I understand offices employ professional courtesy for dental among staff) but health and disability would be pretty important coverages for a female dominated industry I suspect.

If the ODA or CDA has an association plan, I would be curious to see the take-up or penetration rates to see what percentage of workers (not dentists) are indeed covered.

Mr. Taillon also assumes that we don’t realize that there is a lower procedure cost for cash paying versus consumers who have private insurance. It would be bold to suggest that private payers subsidize the cash payers under that model, but that would be pure speculation.

Tuesday, November 13 at 1:53 pm | Reply

Bill Zolis:

I agree with some of the comments from Mr. Taillon, however we also know dentistry is a very profitable business or else we would not see new practices opening up consistently. Fee guides are only guides. Most patients do not ask what the dental codes mean when paying their portion of the bill, they are afraid to. Most patients do not calculate how many units of scaling should be charged for their appointment because they do not know and are afraid to ask.

Wednesday, November 14 at 11:33 am | Reply

Joe Nunes:

“To protect the public, Canadians need to maintain their right to choose and access treatment from their own preferred dentists and specialists. The savings from networks are driven by limiting the choice of providers (including specialists) and of treatment services offered to the patient.”

I have to take my car to a registered dealer for warranty work – hardly a significant infringement on my freedom and part of the contract when I bought the car. If an employer wants to limit choice of dentists (presumably to get a volume discount), they can say so in the employment contract and employees have the ‘freedom’ to work elsewhere if they are dissatisfied with the offer.

The fee guide is a dream come true for dentists because if they get a large percentage of patients agreeing to pay those amounts they do quite well in Ontario and I assume across Canada.

The CDA should be careful in ‘poking the bear’ because the next stop is for employers to tell employees they have to choose between drug coverage and dental coverage, and no matter how the decision splits there will be lost revenue for dentists. Dentists – like lawyers, accountants, and even actuaries already have – must come to accept that global economics and stagnating wage increases means the average patient has fewer dollars for dental care – not more.

Thursday, November 15 at 12:52 pm | Reply

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