For those who have enough money to pay out of pocket, this is not a problem. But, according to the experts, many of those who must pay out of pocket are those who can least afford it -- the working poor; that segment of Ontarians who earn between $15,000 and $30,000 annually, don't get benefits through their workplace, and are ineligible for public coverage. Middle-income seniors are badly hit too, because once they retire they usually have no coverage at all.
|photo credit: www.ottawasouthdental.com|
Most of Ontario's public programs are geared to children. Healthy Smiles, introduced in 2010, offers free preventive or routine dental coverage to children 17 and under, provided their family's adjusted net income is $20,000 or less.
This program is a case in point of the inadequacy of care offered to the working poor. Many families who make more than $20,000 per year can barely afford food and shelter, let alone dental care, which suggests the income cut-off for this program should be higher.
A second program offered to children in Ontario is the Children in Need of Treatment program (CINOT), which covers only emergency dental treatment, such as pain, infection, gingivitis, lesions, or trauma for children under 18 whose families have no other dental coverage.
Once accessed, CINOT coverage lasts for six months, when it must then be reviewed by the local health unit if further emergency care is required.
There are also two programs serving a small portion of Ontario’s children with disabilities or craniofacial abnormalities: Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD), and the Ontario Cleft Lip and Palate/Craniofacial Dental Program.
|When adults do not have access to preventative care, they|
often end up needing far more expensive surgery to
repair the damage.
photo credit: www.smilebydesigndentalstudios.com
Adults on ODSP do receive routine dental care as do their spouses and dependent children under 18. Coverage for more intense interventions is available but must be applied for on a case by case basis.
The end result of this hodge-podge approach to public dental care is a small but consistent proportion of the population with poor oral health, particularly people with disabilities, low-income families, seniors, and aboriginals, the very people the public programs are supposed to help.
For more information on the importance of preventative dental care please visit our previous blog post: What Happened to Our Government’s Commitment to Healthy Smiles?