(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman will present his program for subsidized dental care for children through the age of eight to the National Health Council on Thursday, and to the cabinet on Sunday.
The plan, which was originally supposed to be presented in February, will go into effect in July if approved by the government.
Litzman’s earlier declarations that treatment would cover all children and be completely at no charge have not been actualized. Some of the services such as twice-yearly checkups, a cleaning and twice-yearly X-rays of the dental bite will be free, but fillings, extractions and other services will cost NIS 20 each, with a maximum of NIS 40 per child for each session.
However, free or subsidized dental care for children will be – in principle – permanently added to the basket of health services; this was originally the intention of the authors of the National Health Insurance Law but was vetoed by the Treasury in 1994. In addition, the establishment of additional health funds to provide only nonprofit dental services will be allowed – if the government approves the Health Ministry’s proposals.
The 2010 package will cost NIS 150 million, part of which is the NIS 67m. that Litzman persuaded the government to move from the addition to the 2010 basket of medications and technologies. The rest comes from the Treasury and the Health Ministry. In addition, NIS 20m. more from the government will be allocated to educate children and their parents in schools, family health clinics and dental clinics to avoid and prevent dental disease.
According to Health Ministry associate director-general Dr. Boaz Lev, who formally headed a committee that prepared the plan, the age limit of children and what treatments they will get depend on how much more state money will be allocated to it. He told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday that a program that would cover all youngsters up to 18 would cost about NIS 500m.
Lev said he did not know whether the annual addition to the drug basket
would be smaller in the future due to the added burden of dental care.
The Treasury will have to allocate money for dental supervisors, he
said, as they would have the job of ensuring that treatment is
professional and that unneeded treatments would not be performed.
The Israel Dental Association, which is controlled by private dentists
welcomed the adding of dental care for children to the basket of health
services, but said that if only the health funds would provide care and
not private dentists, patients would be deprived of freedom of choice
of dental care providers. Depending just on health fund dentists, the
IDA said, would limit accessibility to top-level dentists, including
specialists, and minimize personal, long-term contact between the
patient and his or her dentist.
The National Council for the Child, headed by Dr. Yitzhak Kadman,
congratulated Litzman and the government on the “beginning of a
revolution” and being poised to approve the program, but said it would
have been much better if all minors got free dental care by gradually
expanding the limits and raising the health tax by 0.1 percent to cover
the cost. But Lev said there is no plan now to do this.