Free dental treatment for younger children starts this week

By
June 28, 2010 04:38

If and when the Knesset passes a law allowing the establishment of a fifth health fund solely for providing dental care through private dentists, there will be additional choice.

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The Jerusalem Post

dentist illustrative 311. (photo credit: Bloomberg)

Beginning Thursday, July 1, every child up through age seven will be entitled to free or subsidized dental treatment from the health fund that covers his general health care.

If and when the Knesset passes a law allowing the establishment of a fifth health fund solely for providing dental care through private (and perhaps other) dentists, there will be additional choice.

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This was announced by Health Ministry officials on Sunday; the coverage was initiated by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman.

Health Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev asserted that “a fifth health fund to provide the whole basket of health services will not be establishment.”

Critics in the health system have claimed that the dental health fund is being promoted by the Treasury with support from the Health Ministry would be a “foot in the door” for a for-profit health fund for the general basket of services.

Lev said he himself “does not reject the idea of a fifth health fund for dental service.”

But the ministry “has rejected” the idea of vouchers for obtaining dental care from independent dentists.

“This is an ideological condition against vouchers, which are just like getting money, and they can be abused. There would be no supervision of dental services to children using vouchers,” Lev maintained, while the health fund system will be supervised by the ministry, which “will receive seven additional inspectors for the dental program.”

A total of NIS 152 million, about half of it diverted from the basket of medical technologies, will be spent in the coming year on dental care for children before their eighth birthday (determined by the civil, not Hebrew, date).

Lev said he hoped more money will be obtained to expand eligibility. Subsidized dental care for the elderly is also urgently needed, but more expensive, so initiating it in 2011 will be impossible.

Some NIS 20 million will be spent with the local authorities for the schools to teach children how to protect their dental health, Lev said, but no money has yet been allocated to educate parents about cavity prevention, including what not to eat and about the real dangers to life and dental health from leaving a bottle teat in the mouth of a young child when he or she goes to bed.

The well-baby clinics may launch such a program in the future, he said.

To get the free or subsidized dental treatment, make an appointment with a dental clinic through your health fund. One does not have to register to join a plan. Free services include an examination once a year, advice, follow-up, x-rays, up to two sessions on dental hygiene per year, removal of plaque once a year, sealing of teeth, root canal work, temporary crowns, extractions (even surgical) and other services.

Other treatments, which are subsidized, will cost NIS 20 per treatment even if they require more than one sitting. If more than two different treatments are given in one sitting, the price will be no more than NIS 40.

Orthodontic treatment is not included in the plan.

As for whether parents will be able to choose their own dentist, the ministry said that the health funds will each publicize their arrangements.

If a child under eight received free dental care through supplementary health insurance up to now, as of Thursday the health fund will supply it through the new program; if a child over eight received this, he will continue to get treatment through the supplementary program, for which his parents pay extra premiums.


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