Pediatric health fund for dental care okayed

Fifth health fund to enable private dentists to supply subsidized care for children up to age eight.

July 20, 2010 08:00
1 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

dentist illustrative 311. (photo credit: Bloomberg)

A bill for the establishment of a fifth health fund – non-profit and only for providing dental services to children – was approved by the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee on Monday.

The Finance Ministry had wanted a fifth fund to enable private dentists to supply subsidized dental care for children up to the age of eight. The ministry originally wanted the new fund to be for profit, supposedly to increase competition, but MKs and health experts opposed the idea, saying it would be a way to introduce a for-profit general health fund “through the back door.” Opponents charge that a fifth health fund for all medical services would attract the young, healthy and well-off and weaken the four existing health funds.

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According to the bill, a child under eight could get dental care from the fifth fund even if his parents were not registered with it. The new health fund will not be able to offer additional medical services, or represent an insurance company or someone who has a controlling interest in one. In addition, health information may not be transferred by any of the four public health funds to the fifth fund. The new health fund must have clinics around the country and may not refuse to accept all applicants.

Committee head, MK Haim Katz, said the bill was a “significant step for the benefit of Israeli children who cannot afford decent dental care.”

Rami Adut, the Right to Health Project Coordinator of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that “even though it is not clear whether the establishment of a fifth health fund for dental care is justified, and although there is a potential for the entrance of private interests with financial interests entering the public health system, the committee MKs and government ministry professionals deserve credit for accepting most of the conditions proposed by the Coalition for Dental Health.”

Dr. Dr. Yitzhak Chen, chairman of the Israel Dental Association – a majority of the members of which are private dentists – welcomed the committee decision for making it possible for children to continue getting care from the dentist they are used to, even if he works at a private clinic.

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