new federal dental care coverage could have the unintended result of Canadian employers canceling their private health insurance plans, industry players warn.
Ondina Love, president of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, told the Senate finance committee that there is a risk of employers canceling private health insurance plans.
“I think you either incentivize employers to maintain their dental benefits or discourage them through significant fines and government penalties if they take them away,” she said. Blacklock Journalist.
The federal dental care bill is set to pass the Senate and, if granted, households with family incomes below $90,000 could receive up to $650 per child for visits to the dentist.
Dr. Lynn Tomkins, president of the Canadian Dental Association, said two-thirds of Canadians already have some kind of dental insurance.
“That’s something we wouldn’t want to see disrupted by a program that’s being put in place. If employers were to start abandoning their plans because there’s a new federal plan that’s a potential concern,” a- she declared.
Senator Tony Loffreda of Quebec asked in the House of Commons if there was a risk that companies would make the business decision to stop insuring employees for dental care, since the government offered coverage.
“That’s one of the concerns,” Dr. Tomkins replied.
There are also industry experts who welcome the plan.
Professor Carlos Quiñonez, director of the dental public health graduate specialty program at the University of Toronto, said the program would help those who are “currently lacking in our system”.
“That’s excellent news [for] the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, that could benefit,” Quiñonez said.
Bill C-31, “An Act Respecting Cost-of-Living Measures Related to Dental Care,” passed third reading on October 7. The Conservatives and Bloc voted against the bill, with a final vote of 172 to 138.
The bill was an agreement between the Liberals and the NDP in a confidence and supply agreement, and is presented as relief for the rising cost of living.
“It’s a first step, an interim benefit,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told the House of Commons Health Committee on Oct. 31.
The interim program will allow the government to issue payments directly to families, while the federal government will continue to work on a stand-alone federal dental insurance program that is expected to be in place by 2025.
Health Canada representatives Told Canadian Press on October 28 that an outside firm has yet to be hired to handle claims for a new permanent program.
Families will be asked to apply to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide certifications: first, that they have no private insurance; second, that they pay for dental care out of pocket; and three, that they have booked a dental appointment. Receipts should be kept in case the CRA later decides to conduct an audit.
The grant will give households less than $70,000 with a maximum of $650 tax-free for each child under 12 for dental care. Households with incomes between $70,000 and $90,000 would receive a lesser amount. The government estimates that 500,000 children would qualify for the dental subsidy, at an annual cost to taxpayers of $938 million.
Conservative MP and House Leader Andrew Scheer told the House of Commons that the relief will fuel higher inflation.
“Don’t pour water on this grease fire. More inflationary spending that will make the problem worse,” he said on October 27.