The cabinet decided unanimously to approve the allocation of NIS 80 million to provide basic dental care for children aged 13 and 14 starting in 2016, thus expanding a reform Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman began in 2010.
But despite the fact that parents are today not charged for basic dental care from birth through age 12, only 30 percent of them take advantage of the service, for which 300,000 more children will soon be eligible.
The treatment is available at health fund dental clinics, and will be expanded to the new age group starting on January 1. Clalit, Maccabi and Meuhedet have their own dental clinics, but the smallest insurer, Leumit, has none and carries out the program through contracts with around 250 private dentists. The vast majority of the dentists are general dentists who treat patients of all ages and not pediatric dentistry specialists.
When the program was launched, it included children up to the age of eight; in July 2011, it was expanded to those up to the age of 10. A year later, it encompassed those up to the age of 12. It was not expanded when MK Yael German was health minister. Now that Litzman has replaced her, he again expanded it to 14; on January 1, 2017, it will include children up to age 15, then in 2018, to age 16. In 2019 it will include teens up to age 18.
Litzman praised the government decision, noting that “dental care is an inseparable part of medical care,” and expressed regret that it expansion was halted by the previous government.