Comprehensive Dental Care in Canada: The Choice Between Denticaid and Denticare
A healthy mouth is an essential ingredient for overall good health, but a Canadian’s access to comprehensive dental care is dependent on their ability to attain private insurance. This paper seeks to estimate the gross and net total cost of two policy options for introducing comprehensive dental care into Canadian Medicare. Using a micro-costing approach for estimating the annual clinical costs, and an average-costing approach for annual administrative expenses, this paper estimated the total cost of universal first dollar dental coverage (denticare) and public dental insurance for children and uninsured adults in Canada (denticade). If the denticare option was implemented in the year 2019, the gross total public-sector cost would to be roughly $15.68 billion. This would replace the current $1.02 billion spent on existing public health dentistry programs and $6.27 billion spend on public employee’s dental plans. The total cost could be further offset by the inclusion of income-tiered premiums set at a maximum rate below private insurance provider prices. The net total cost of denticare would then be an aggregate decrease in public spending by $127.08 million. If the denticade option was implemented in the year 2019, the gross total public-sector cost would to be roughly $8.43 billion. This would replace the current $1.02 billion spent on existing public health dentistry programs but would not replace spending on public employee’s dental plans. The total cost could be further offset by the inclusion of income-tiered premiums and copayments. The net total cost of denticade would an aggregate increase in public spending by $1.41 billion. The results of this costing analysis demonstrate that by pursuing the universal first-dollar coverage option, Canadians taxpayers could see a reduction in tax-based spending and a considerable decrease in dental premiums changed than if the denticade approach was pursued.
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