June 1, 2010
by Dental Practice Management
I read with some interest your editorial on the dentally underserviced. Without getting into a debate as to whether healthcare is a fundamental right or not-a debate about which there is fundamental disagreement on both sides of the issue, it is enough to say that the public is going to demand universal health care the same way that it demands universal education. Intelligent practitioners will recognize this and adapt to the situation.
There is a fundamental problem using dentist-to-people ratios to assess the needs of the public. It assumes the demand is the same across all segments of society and all geographic areas. I have practiced in urban Ontario, suburban Ontario, rural Alberta, urban Saskatchewan, rural and urban British Columbia, on native reserves, in Iowa, Washington State, and Oregon in managed care. I believe I have a perspective on the subject. The demand on the profession is absolutely not the same in these areas and it is a fallacy to pretend it is.
You may be aware that dentistry is covered under the Oregon health plan. I treated many people under this plan. The government of British Columbia allows $1,000 every two years for treatment of its wards under the Department of Human Resources. This is totally and completely unrealistic. It is legislated, bad oral health. The federal government program for the native population is better, but not by much.
Until governments at all levels begin to live up to their self-imposed obligations to people in their charge, they will continue to deserve the cynicism that the profession has for their plans.
They may start by doing an adequate job of the responsibilities they have already undertaken. The politicians may want to be Don Quixote, but I have no intention of being Sancho Panza.
Peter Bradley, DDS
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