The price of private dental services: results from a national representative survey of Ireland
Smith S., Jiang JJ., Normand C., O’Neill C.
Abstract Introduction Dental services in Ireland are delivered in a mixed public–private system but the majority of dental care is paid for out-of-pocket by individuals. Ireland is not unusual in the global context where public subsidisation for oral healthcare is limited in many countries. This is despite the fact that oral health plays an important role in well-being and despite international evidence on the negative impact of user fees on utilisation of beneficial healthcare. However, there has been little up-to-date assessment of the prices faced by individuals for a range of non-acute care services in Ireland, including dental care. This paper presents an up-to-date assessment of private dental prices in Ireland for a range of preventive, primary, and complex services based on a nationally representative survey. Methods The total sample size for the desk-based survey was 103, accounting for 6% of private dentists in Ireland, weighted to reflect the geographic distribution of dentists. Dentists were selected at random from the publicly available list of dentists participating in the Dental Treatment Benefit Scheme. The adult price of 10 different services covering core preventive, primary, and complex procedures were identified from public websites for the selected dental practices. Results Results showed that in addition to there being an uneven supply of dentists across the country, dental prices also vary with some notable variations by region and type of service. In particular, dental practices located in border counties, and those in rural areas typically show lower mean prices relative to non-border counties and urban areas. These factors need to be considered when planning how to reduce inequalities in access to oral health services in Ireland.