Dental subsidies expanded to include 12-year-olds

Expansion unanimously approved by gov't, adding a potential 267,000 children who may benefit from the program.

Child at the dentist 370 (photo credit: Thinkstock)
Child at the dentist 370
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
The government unanimously approved the expansion of subsidized dental care for children up to the age of 12, thus adding a potential 267,000 children who may benefit from the program.
But the majority of parents have not taken advantage of the subsidized care, which was initiated by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, who regularly praises the expansion and takes credit for it.
The care will be expanded starting July 1 at a cost of NIS 80 million, the government said, but Prof. Jonathan Mann, head of community dentistry and former dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine in Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post that this was “impossible.”
Mann, who has in the past demanded that independent assessment of Litzman’s program be undertaken to explore both its effectiveness and the best way to send the money on dental care for children, said: “The idea of providing treatment for free is important, but I still believe that continuing the process with no real evaluation of the reform is a great mistake.”
Analysis is available on the number of treatments provided, yet, said Mann, “not a single word has been given on primary prevention for the total population, nothing on real expenses of the program or on the deficit of the health funds – which are paid by the government and responsible for providing the care.”
“There has been no independent evaluation of the quality of dental care, including satisfaction of caregivers and patients from the twoyear- old old reform, which has been run for enough time to run such evaluations,” Mann added.
At the opening of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister (and formally health minister) Binyamin Netanyahu said that the program was initiated by Litzman, and it will likely be expanded further.
Sunday’s approval of the expansion “means that 1.5 million children will get free dental care. It used to cost a fortune and be beyond the means of many children. Deputy Minister Ya’acov Litzman should be congratulated,” Netanyahu said.
Litzman said the reform “brought social justice to Israeli children. We will continue and include dental care for children up to the age of 14 during the coming year and work to expand it up to the age of 18.”
A total of 1.23 million children up to age 10 have been eligible up to this point. But last year, the number of children up to age eight who received any treatment totaled just 265,000.
The ministry said that between ages eight and 10, “Forty percent received dental treatment under the program, “which is a great achievement.”
To which Mann responded: “Forty percent of what? I have no idea where this figure came from.”
The ministry said it “does not [use] privatized supervision and quality control of the treatments,” and that instead, the ministry’s own dental service officials had calculated the figure.