By Jamie Rieger
Alberta families may soon be saving a few bucks and have better access to information on dental fees after the Alberta government announced last week that it plans to create a dental fee guide.
The creation of a dental fee guide comes after a review that showed Albertans pay higher fees, fees that are increasing at a more rapid rate than any other province in Canada. Alberta is also the only province without a dental fee guide.
“We are empowering families with the information they need when accessing dental services and this is just the first step we are taking. We are partnering with the Alberta Dental Association and College to further protect consumers by introducing a public fee guide similar to those found in every other province,” said Sarah Hoffman, deputy premier and minister of health. “Work is also underway to close gaps in government programs for vulnerable Albertans and help families understand their rights as dental consumers.”
The dental fee review included an analysis of low, average, and high fees for common dental procedures being performed in the province. The review found that dental procedures can be as much as 44 percent higher in Alberta than in neighbouring provinces and average Alberta dental rates have increased by 56 percent over a 10-year period.
As well as a fee report and public fee guide, the health minister has asked to Alberta Dental Association and College to submit a plan outlining strategies that address growing public confidence and identify solutions that address concerns and confusion about dentists’ advertising guidelines.
Wildrose shadow health minister and MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat Drew Barnes issued a statement following last week’s announcement.
“Albertans want transparency, market-driven solutions, and consumer-first policies to help drive down the cost of dental fees,” said Barnes. “We hope that the fee guide has the desired effect, but there is much more that can and should be done to encourage lower costs and consumer choice across the board.”
The dental fee guide will provide a list for Albertans to allow them to compare prices when searching for affordable dental services.