Dutch Parliament votes for return to fixed dentist fees
The Dutch government historically controlled dentists’ fees, but on January 1 of this year dentists in the Netherlands became allowed to set their own prices. After a 6-month trial period, the Dutch parliament has voted to reintroduce fixed, government-regulated fees after research showed that dentists had increased their prices dramatically since the rules changed.
Prior to the new rules, Health Minister Edith Schippers claimed that deregulation of dental fees would improve quality and lead to lower prices. When dental care was liberalised, insurers had to start listing on their websites how much they would reimburse patients for various treatments.
This was expected to help patients compare how much they would be reimbursed for treatments by various dentists, perhaps encouraging them to switch to another dental practice, making pricing more competitive in the process.
Instead, fees increased by an average 9,6 percent in the first three months of this year (6,1 percent when corrected for inflation), according to research by the national health authority (Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit).
The NZa survey showed that price of an ordinary check-up has increased by an average of 3,1 percent while crowns have become 18,5 percent more expensive. Furthermore, the NZa survey indicated that just 2-6 percent of patients have switched dentists, in spite of the price increases.
Although Schippers does not wish to end the experiment so early, she said that she would act according to the parliament's decision, and that it would take about six months for fixed prices to be reintroduced.
Because dentistry is privatised in the Netherlands, patients are responsible for paying for the costs rather than their insurance company.
If you are covered by a Dutch basic health insurance policy, your insurance company will cover the costs of all dentistry for your children up to the age of 18 and dental surgery for all adults.
All other dental care (e.g. regular check-ups) will only be insured by taking out additional dental insurance. Most dental insurance policies only cover a fixed amount of money, leaving patients to make up the difference.
Note that many Dutch dental practices are full and it can be difficult to find one able to take on new patients. You can search for a dentist in your neighbourhood be entering your postcode at Tandarts.nl.
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