adult dental care.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
In four years, everyone up to the age of 18 will be entitled to free basic dental care from their health
fund, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman predicted on Tuesday at the
convention of the National Council for the Child at Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev.
Litzman has also said he would institute basic
dental care for the elderly.
At present, children up to the age of 12 get
basic dental care in exchange for nominal fees at their health fund’s dental
clinics or outside clinics contracted to do the work; soon this will be expanded
to age 14.
But while Litzman has in the past two years declared the
program “great success,” there has been criticism of it from senior dentists in
academia, arguing that there is no independent supervision aside from a handful
of ministry officials.
In addition, Prof. Jonathan Mann – head of
community medicine at the Hebrew University- Hadassah School of Dental Medicine
– has charged that the ministry refused to allowing academic researchers to
study whether the program has been beneficial or did not meet its
Private dentists have said that the heath funds have few or no
pediatric dental specialists available to provide service and that dentists are
going out of business as their patient load has been depleted because they were
excluded from the program. Public health experts have complained that the tens
of millions of shekels devoted to the program would have been better spent on
preventive dentistry and not treating dental problems after the they
Litzman also commented on teenagers who advocate lowering the
age limit under which parents have the right to make medical decisions for their
The deputy minister said such suggestions should be examined
carefully, as they had many implications.
One could be that the parents
of children who make medical decisions by themselves might not be entitled to
National Insurance Institute child allotments, Litzman said.
ethics expert Prof. Avraham Steinberg said that in routine medical issues,
minors should be given autonomy, but in more complicated ones, a special
apparatus should be set up to decide when it is not appropriate for courts to
decide. There was a recent case of a girl whose doctors said her hand must be
removed surgically to save her life, and she said she understand she had “no
choice” but to agree.
But her mother absolutely opposed the
Other difficult issues include abortions, plastic surgery and
tattoos that minors want but parents oppose or have not even been informed