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Dental care out of reach for millions

People are refusing dental care because they cannot afford the high cost: and it is now out of reach of millions

HIGH dental costs are turning people away from having treatment, the Cour des Comptes audit body says.

One person in seven stopped dental work for financial reasons in 2006. In all, 63 per cent of all cases where people cancelled health treatments involved dental care, against 25 per cent for spectacles or contact lenses and 16 per cent for specialist consultants.

The auditors said dental care was now out of reach of a high proportion of the population and the Sécurité Sociale was paying for only a third of the €9 billion costs of dentistry; whereas in 1980, it paid for half.

They particularly attacked the pricing of prosthetics such as crowns, bridges and dentures and the low level of repayment by the Sécu. A crown costs between €275-€760 but the reimbursement is only €75.

However, the Cour des Comptes said the average cost to the dentist was only between €68 and €115 as they were using more imported products. This added up to a €160m profit for dentists.

For a three-tooth bridge a patient would pay up to €2,290 while the cost to the dentist was €345 and the reimbursement €195.

The Cour des Comptes said the payment for dentists was too high – €4.2bn in 2006 as against €2.1bn for doctors – and that mutuelles should get more of a in dental estimates. Dentists should also be cutting costs by employing assistants to do standard work such as scaling and polishing.

France has more dentists per 100,000 people than the rest of Europe ; 65 per 100,000 as against 61 per 100,000, but that is set to fall severely and the audit report forecast there would be only 40 dentists per 100,000 by 2030.

In addition, dentists are very poorly distributed round the country.

Related stories:
Patients condemn high dentist costs
Charges for French dental treatment

Photo: Sandor Kacso - Fotolia.com

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