Teeth in August

Stop right there. When was the last time you and the kids (and your husband) went to the dentist?

Aha!

Gotcha.

You haven’t been sticking to the six monthly visit regimen, have you?

How do we know? It’s because you’re not alone. The vast majority of South Africans don’t visit the dentist half enough.

None other than the SA Dental Association (SADA) is worried about it, too. They say that a mere 0,4% of medical scheme members visit the dentist once a year. It’s a shocking situation.

TEETH MONTH

August is Teeth Month so it’s a good time to look at WHY this is happening.

TeethMaretha Smit, CEO of SADA, says this state of affairs has arisen partly, at least, because medical scheme rates offered to dentists often fall way below the actual costs of treatment.

She said this situation could even lead to the death of dentistry as a profession. Many are planning to leave the country.

 

GET SERIOUS ABOUT DENTAL COVER

Smit urges medical aid members to start making serious demands of their schemes to do more in the area of medical care. People are resisting going to the dentist because they believe their medical schemes will not full the whole bill. They are right.

ORAL DISEASE

Statistics released by GEMS (the government medical scheme) show that 41% of women and 31% of men have oral disease. And 64% of women and 56% of men have lost some of their teeth.

“This shows that medical schemes have to start making dental services a higher priority,” said Smit.

What’s worse is that there is a direct link between oral breakdown and serious diseases including heart disease, pregnancy problems, respiratory ailments and lots of other disorders.

“The high cost of dealing with these illnesses could be reduced if there was sufficient cover for the much more modest costs of good dental care,” said Smit.

DISHONEST MEDICAL AIDS

Smit added that sometimes medical schemes misrepresented the situation by telling members that dentists were “overcharging”, whereas in fact the medical scheme is paying a small percentage of a fair fee.

DENTISTRY LEFT BEHIND

The Council of Medical Schemes reported that in 2011, of the R93,2 billion spent by the schemes,  dentists received a mere 2,4%, or R2,6 billion. By contrast, medical aid costs including administrative, brokerage and managed care fees amounted to R12,124 billion.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • Get the family to the dentist every six months
  • Complain to your medical schemes about the disgraceful shortfalls in dental cover
  • Complain on hellopeter.com and other consumer forums
  • Send an email of demand to the Council for Medical Schemes at complaints@medicalschemes.com