November 22, 2017 1:13 pm
Updated: November 23, 2017 4:33 pm

New Alberta dental fee guide recommends 8.5% drop for dozens of procedures

WATCH ABOVE: A visit to the dentist will cost you more in Alberta than anywhere else in Canada. In January, the province expects dental bills to go down by 8.5 per cent. Kendra Slugoski explains.

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The Alberta government has come to an agreement with the Alberta Dental Association and College on a new fee guide.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman announced Wednesday morning the guide — the first in more than two decades — recommends an 8.5 per cent drop in dental prices for 60 common dental procedures.

READ MORE: Albertans could see dental costs drop thanks to new fee guide

Hoffman said the fee guide can serve as a tool for consumers to compare prices.

“I’ve heard from seniors and parents worried about creeping costs and the affordability of dental care,” Hoffman said. “We’ve partnered with the Alberta Dental Association and College to make sure dental health is affordable and transparent in this province.”

LISTEN: Health Minister Sarah Hoffman speaks to 630 CHED’S Ryan Jespersen


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The fee guide is a list of recommendations not mandates, which means dentists will still determine the cost of procedures. But the government said other provinces have seen the majority of dentists adhere to their provincial dental fee guides.

READ MORE: Alberta dentists, government holding further discussions about fees despite new guide

In August, a three per cent decrease was recommended by the association and college — after a 2016 review found Albertans pay 44 per cent more on average for common dental procedures than the rest of Canada.

However, Hoffman expressed her displeasure with the guide and asked the Alberta Dental Association and College to come up with something different.

LISTEN: Rob Breakenridge connects with the President of the Alberta Dental Association and College Council Dr. Mintoo Basahti.

Dr. Mintoo Basahti, president of the Alberta Dental Association and College, admitted some dentists are worried about the potential effects of the guide on their practices.

“At the end of the day they have to trust senior leadership and trust the stability the minister has given them, then go back and focus on day-to-day, high-quality care,” he said.

“It’s a tool created by dentists, for dentists, in partnership to be able to say, ‘This is fair and reasonable,”’ said Hoffman.

The lobby group Friends of Medicare said it welcomes the new guide, but also urged the Health Ministry to add dental coverage to the province’s health-care insurance plan.

“We don’t believe your health needs end where your mouth begins, and cost barriers to good oral health should be removed,” executive director Sandra Azocar said in a release.

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann said the new guide “does little to resolve the problem of high, unregulated dental costs, including outrageous hygienist fees.”

“Dentists should be required to discuss prices up front and publicly list their standard prices in comparison to the fee guide,” Swann said in a news release.

Swann also said it will take a year or more to determine if the guide will be able to drive down dental bills.

Alberta dentists point out they are now paying more for their registration and membership fee, which went up by 21 per cent.

 

 

 

 

 

The new fee guide will take effect on Jan. 1.

LISTEN: Rob Breakenridge connects with the President of the Alberta Dental Association and College Council Dr. Mintoo Basahti.

With files from The Canadian Press. 

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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