December 4, 2021

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"The dentist's threshold is high in this country, it's time for a comprehensive dental care reform" - Belgium

“The dentist’s threshold is high in this country, it’s time for a comprehensive dental care reform” – Belgium

“The third-party payer rule won’t help a dental patient much,” writes Frieda Gibbs (N-VA). “The dentist’s threshold should be lowered.”

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroek has announced that he wants to do something about the affordability of dental care. It mentions the introduction of the third-party payer rule (meaning that you as a patient only pay the patient contribution) and the reimbursement of crowns and implants. But I don’t think this is the right way to go. Dental care needs an overhaul.

The dentist’s threshold is high in this country. This is often related to the costs involved in dental care. Dental Care (I actually prefer to call it oral care, because dentists care about more than just the teeth in the mouth) Really expensive in this country. This is because in Belgium we have to pay about 57% of dental care costs out of our own pocket. This is much more than what the Netherlands and Germany have said.

This is because the rate that the government puts on various treatments no longer matches the cost of modern dental care techniques. So many dentists do not stick to the official price, because this is simply not possible. Some dental care costs are not reimbursed at all. And then it’s not just about fancy care, like teeth whitening (which isn’t always a fancy treatment, just think of teeth that change color after they’ve been extracted). But then it also comes to treating gingivitis, for example. This amount is not refundable if you are 55 years of age or older. While this infection is associated with cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Specific dental care is becoming more and more expensive, because technologies are evolving and because more and more is possible. As a growing group of dentists no longer adhere to “official” rates, the third-party payer rule (where the patient only pays the patient’s contribution) will be of little use if treatments are not compensated or are offset too small.

But this does not mean that this development is unsustainable and that dental care will become expensive in the future anyway.

Because there is also good news. You can prevent most dental problems. Because the cause of tooth decay (cavities) and periodontitis (inflammation of the bones of the gums and jaw) is simply “dental plaque”. It can be cleaned perfectly. It’s a good idea to do this every day at home (yes, between teeth too), and it’s a good idea to visit a professional regularly to remove the plaque and tartar that escapes from daily brushing. This sounds simple, but it’s the only way to promote general oral health and keep oral care affordable.

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We even have “dental hygienists” in Flanders for three years, who are perfectly trained to master the technique of brushing and brushing teeth in a professional manner. They can also do a tremendous job in residential care centers and institutions for people with disabilities. And the best news: They can limit the number of bigger and more expensive interests! Hence there can also be correct rates with correct payback. Only… These dental hygienists are right there, but their treatments are not compensated. Unfortunately. The third-party payer rule won’t help with that either.

So, my question to the government is to really work on affordable dental care. A billion costs the government dental care, but actual spending is about 1.8 billion. An additional payment of €45 million, promised by Minister Vandenbroek, is certainly welcome, but a real change is needed to make oral care more affordable. So far I’ve heard that he wants to solve the problem by introducing a third-party payer rule and reimbursing the most expensive care costs. Now, re-pushing the implants and crowns, this”It’s nice to have‘, but this does not improve the quality of our oral care.

The threshold for the dentist should be much lower. But what we really need is a clear choice for more and better prevention, so that the number of more expensive dental care can be reduced dramatically. The goal should be to keep as many teeth healthy as possible, rather than paying for crowns and implants.

That is why it is time, after 5 years of consultation, to put in place a financial framework for dental hygienists. That’s why there should be adequate compensation for periodontal treatments, regardless of a person’s age. This is why we must ensure a transparent and understandable dental bill, so that the risk of fraud is minimized. This is why calculating the cost of various dental care is also necessary and reasonable rates should be set, which dentists can adhere to. That is why we must make sure that dentists who come to work here from abroad undergo a language test. This is why we also need to provide a clear framework for so-called “chain” practices.

We have already combined our proposals into a proposal for a solution. Hopefully the government will at least take a look.

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Health Minister Frank Vandenbroek has announced that he wants to do something about the affordability of dental care. It mentions the introduction of the third-party payer rule (meaning that you as a patient only pay the patient contribution) and the reimbursement of crowns and implants. But I don’t think this is the right way to go. Dental care needs an overhaul, the dentist’s threshold is high in this country. This is often related to the costs involved in dental care. Dental care (I prefer to call it oral care, because dentists care about more than just the teeth in the mouth) is really expensive in this country. This is because in Belgium we have to pay about 57% of dental care costs out of our own pocket. This is much more than what the Netherlands and Germany have said. This is because the rate that the government puts on various treatments no longer matches the cost of modern dental care techniques. So many dentists do not stick to the official price, because this is simply not possible. Some dental care costs are not reimbursed at all. And then it’s not just about fancy care, like teeth whitening (which isn’t always a fancy treatment, just think of teeth that change color after they’ve been extracted). But then it also comes to treating gingivitis, for example. This amount is not refundable if you are 55 years of age or older. While this infection is associated with cardiovascular disease and dementia. Specific dental care is becoming more and more expensive, because technologies are evolving and because more and more is possible. As a growing group of dentists no longer adhere to “official” rates, the third-party payer rule (where the patient only pays the patient’s contribution) will be of little use if treatments are not compensated or are offset too small. But this does not mean that this development is unsustainable and that dental care will become expensive in the future anyway. Because there is also good news. You can prevent most dental problems. Because the cause of tooth decay (cavities) and periodontitis (inflammation of the bones of the gums and jaw) is simply “dental plaque”. It can be cleaned perfectly. It’s a good idea to do this every day at home (yes, between teeth too), and it’s a good idea to visit a professional regularly to remove the plaque and tartar that escapes from daily brushing. This sounds simple, but it is the only way to promote general oral health and maintain oral care prices. For three years now, we have “Dental Hygienists” in Flanders, who are perfectly trained to master the technique of brushing and brushing teeth in a professional manner. They can also do a tremendous job in residential care centers and institutions for people with disabilities. And the best news: They can limit the number of bigger and more expensive interests! Hence there can also be correct rates with correct payback. Only… These dental hygienists are right there, but their treatments are not compensated. Unfortunately. So the third-party payer rule isn’t going to help with that either, and my question to the government is to really work on affordable dental care. A billion costs the government dental care, but actual spending is about 1.8 billion. An additional payment of €45 million, promised by Minister Vandenbroek, is certainly welcome, but a real change is needed to make oral care more affordable. So far I’ve heard that he wants to solve the problem by introducing a third-party payer rule and reimbursing the most expensive care costs. Now, paying for implants and crowns is a “fun thing,” but that doesn’t improve the quality of your oral care. The threshold for the dentist should be much lower. But what we really need is a clear choice for more and better prevention, so that the number of more expensive dental care can be reduced dramatically. The goal should be to keep as many teeth healthy as possible, rather than paying for crowns and implants. That is why it is time, after 5 years of consultation, to put in place a financial framework for dental hygienists. That’s why there should be adequate compensation for periodontal treatments, regardless of a person’s age. This is why we must ensure a transparent and understandable dental bill, so that the risk of fraud is minimized. This is why calculating the cost of various dental care is also necessary and reasonable rates should be set, which dentists can adhere to. That is why we must make sure that dentists who come to work here from abroad undergo a language test. This is why we also need to provide a clear framework for so-called “chain” practices. We have already combined our proposals into a proposal for a solution. Hopefully the government will at least take a look.

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