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Should dental care be a part of the national health care system?

Last Updated Sep 2, 2020 at 9:55 am MDT

A dentist looks at a patient's teeth during a checkup (CREDIT: Pixabay)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A national dental care plan has been on the table for years–even as early as 1952.

However, its feasibility and costs have e been an issue. Whether or not denticare is doable for Canada is the focus of a recent report from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

“For now, we finally have an idea of how much it would cost. Until now, it’s just been a high-minded concept. It came up in the last federal election but we really haven’t had any sound guidance into how much this would actually cost,” said researcher Thomas Lange.

Lange said the report looked at universal coverage or denticare as well as introducing public insurance programs, denticaid, for those who aren’t covered.

“The universal dental care option, the gross total was higher than the public insurance program. When we looked at the net–after you factor in co-payments, premiums, and things like that–the net cost after cost-sharing was actually lower for the universal dental care option.”

He added having more people covered under public insurance was more efficient than creating a fragmented two-tiered dental insurance scheme.

The research also showed nearly one in four Canadians don’t get dental work done because of the high costs.

Lange said if an election is called in the near future, it’s likely dental plans will be an issue.

“If that is the case, I really hope that we keep oral health care in mind because with COVID-19, we’ve seen a record number of people losing their employment and therefore losing any employee benefits.”

Following the 2019 federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to implementing a national pharmacare program and exploring ways to integrate dental care into the public health system.