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Huge rises in dentist fees "are fair"

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19:46 CET+01:00
Dentist bills have risen by more than 100 percent in the past six years, but we can rest assured that we're not being cheated, according to the Swedish National Social Insurance Board (RFV). This week it published the results of a study into the honesty of dentists. “Sometimes they make small miscalculations in their bills, but that could happen to anyone”, says RFV.

The organisation checked just under 1000 dentist bills and in only 15 cases were there signs of deception. In 29 instances it was a case of bad maths. Bengt Franzon, President of the private dentists association, Privattandläkarna, is not surprised; “Most Swedish dentists do take good care and look after their patients. It's amoral to cheat, and not very nice towards other dentists."

Ever since deregulation in 1999 the RFV has been warning that prices for dental care have been going through the roof. Although it's reassuring to know that the astronomical charges levied by dentists are honest representations of the cost, it still means that one in three Swedish adults choose not to go to the dentist, reports SvD.

Within the public dental care system, Folktandvården, prices went up between 9 and 102%, since 1998. Private dentists put their charges up by 11 to 144% over the same period. There are also huge price differences between the cheapest and the most expensive counties, at least 25% for different kinds of treatments.

“It's worrying when people can no longer afford to go to the dentist,” says Health Minister Ylva Johansson to SvD. “The general public has a weak voice in this context and that's why the situation of patients needs to be strengthened.”

Although she doesn't exclude the possibility of government intervention, it isn't on the agenda just yet. The previous Minister for Health, Lars Enqvist, threatened as recently as 2003 to cap the costs of dental care, but nothing happed. Ylva Johansson will now invite dentists within Folktandvården and private dentists to a conference so that they can discuss possible solutions that would avoid price capping. She wants to see an effect on prices ‘pretty quickly' during 2005, otherwise a capping proposal will be put forward anyway.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, webfinanser.com

Lysanne Sizoo

Lysanne Sizoo is a certified Counsellor, specialising in bereavement, fertility and cultural assimilation issues. She also runs a support and discussion group for English speaking women. You can contact her on sizoo@swipnet.se, or 08 717 3769. More information on www.sizoo.nu.

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