Cost-price move on dental crowns

Dentists may face price-cutting move - Photo: © Sandor Kacso - Fotolia.com

Minister says dentists should include purchase price on patients’ bills

DENTISTS may be obliged to show the cost price of crowns or bridges when they estimating their bill to patients.

Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said that a future health law, with debate in parliament to start early next year, should contain a move towards bringing down the cost of prosthetics.

Patients have complained for years about the high cost of crowns, bridges, implants and dentures and have pointed to dentists’ high mark-up – with fitting prosthetics taking just 15% of their time but making up more than 50% of their earnings.

The social security reimbursement for a crown is just €75.25 and the dental technicians’ federation SFFFDMM says the actual cost of a metal-ceramic crown varies between €120 for a French-made version and €40 for one made in China.

Dentists decide their own charges for prosthetics but a survey on France TVinfo found this varies from €400 in Toulouse to €850 in Paris – with some bills reaching as high as €1,000.

Health research group Santéclair estimated that it was a market worth €5-6billion

Dentists say that showing patients the cost price of the prosthetic would lead to price-based dentistry where patients looked only at the cost and not the quality of the work done.

One told France 2 that fitting a crown involved deciding the work to be done, several consultations, X-ray or scanner examinations as well as the “time spent in the patient’s mouth”.

And another told Connexion that about 70% of his time was spent on “conservation work” where he was checking for gum disease, descaling teeth or doing fillings and extractions – but this was not well reimbursed and the better-paid work on prosthetics helped offset this.

In 2012 dentists attacked a previous plan to impose changes on their profession but the dental technicians’ federation SFFFDMM has said that the government should get rid of dentists’ monopoly on choosing prosthetics, with patients allowed to go directly to the technician to get the best choice.

Speaking on the M6 TV programme Capital, Mr Macron said the move was part of the wide-ranging measures he wanted to apply across the “professions réglementées such as notaires, pharmacists and others. He also singled out the profits of autoroute companies, citing their 20% profit margins as too high.

In December’s Connexion we will be looking at ways you can go abroad for dental work - and eye laser surgery - and the savings to be had. If you have done this we would like to hear about your experiences - contact us via news[at]connexionfrance.com

Photo: © Sandor Kacso - Fotolia.com

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