‘Dental care mandatory within health insurance’ - GulfToday

‘Dental care mandatory within health insurance’

Dentalcare

Photo has been used for illustrative purposes. File / Reuters

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

An official from the just-concluded “AEEDC Dubai Conference & Exhibition,” an international annual gathering of oral health practitioners, has rebutted claims that dental/oral health plans are excluded in health insurance packages because the procedures are “for cosmetic purposes” and have nothing to do with over-all health.

AEEDC Dubai honorary chairman Dr. Tariq Khoory told Gulf Today: “This information is not correct. We oral health practitioners advise health insurance companies to include dental treatment in their packages, because it is part of the general health.” “Those who have good dental hygiene tend to be healthier than those who are having bad oral hygiene. We request that the basic dental treatment should be part of the insurance, even if the insurance package will go a little bit higher,” he added.

The Dubai Health Authority-Dubai Dental Services consultant also said: “It has been proven that there is a strong link between oral hygiene and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). Those whose oral hygiene is very bad are more prone to (CVDs). Also, diabetic patients need to have a very good oral hygiene because of the blood glucose in not well controlled, it will lead to severe gingivitis and periodontal diseases.” He said “all age groups at the beginning must be seen by the dentist every six months” and consequent frequency of consultations would depend on the “oral health condition.” Khoory was interviewed as on Wednesday, a YouGov survey cited that 89 per cent (453) of 509 persons in the UAE believe dental care should be mandatory within the UAE-required health insurance system.

The survey, completed between July and August 2019 also had 518 participants from Saudi Arabia for a total of 1,028 respondents possessing health insurance coverage, majority of which were 25 to 34 years old, 61 per cent (316) men in Saudi Arabia and 64 per cent (326) men in the UAE.

Global medical device company Align Technology commissioned the survey.

The company’s senior vice president/Europe-Middle East-Africa managing director Markus Sebastian explained: “We want that this research serve as a launch pad and contribute important conversations around efficient oral care and to support efforts for providing better access to dental care, given its importance to a person’s over-all health.” Sebastian believes the UAE “can play a crucial role in raising the bar through wider access to dental care which, when included in health insurance could help more people benefit from timely care.” The survey conclusions in the UAE revealed the following:

• 280 of the 509 (55 per cent) did not receive dental care when they needed it, with the costs associated with it as the leading barrier.

• 224 of the 509 (44 per cent) have had a conversation with an oral healthcare professional about the benefits of giving up smoking or other types of tobacco to improve dental health within 12 months; and cutting across all income levels avoided dental consultations because of the lack of a health plan with dental benefits, and visited dentists only for cleaning and polishing.

• 234 of the 509 (46 per cent) had spoken to a dental professional about oral cancer.

• 249 of the 509 (49 per cent) avoided dental visits because they doubted the acceptance of their health insurance.

• 239 of the 509 (47 per cent) doubted the competence of a dental provider.

• 158 of the 509 (31 per cent) went for dental general check-ups.

The findings from the 1,028 UAE and Saudi Arabia participants are: •    730 (71 per cent) did not seek dental consultations even if they were suffering from teeth or gum problems because of the high costs.

• 874 (85 per cent) said they would have gone for dental consultations if they have dental/oral procedures included in their health insurance which is consistent with international studies suggesting that insurance is a key factor in the “use and non-use” of dental use.

• 339 (33 per cent) had dental care in their health insurance of which 159 (47 per cent) had a coverage for a maximum of Dhs3,000.00 per year, and 68 (20 per cent) can claim a cover of Dhs5,000.00 per annum.

• 432 (42 per cent) only had conversations with healthcare professionals regarding their dental/oral conditions in relation to their over-all health such as blood sugar checks.


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