Spanish Government Offers Children Free Dental Care

It is well known that access to preventative medicine is best for the overall health of a nation: and the same applies to access to dental care too. For this reason, the Spanish government have proposed a bill that will allow free preventative dental care to all children in the county aged between 0 and 14. Other groups that would be entitled to free dental care under this plan are individual with mental or upper limb physical disabilities, pregnant women, and individuals with head and neck cancers. If the bill is approved, then the government would allocate 44 million euros to their new Oral Health Plan. Here’s everything you need to know about the proposed Oral Health Plan bill:

Who Currently Receives Free Dental Care in Spain?

The Spanish public health system, which is an incredibly comprehensive system, and widely recognised as one of the best in the world, does not currently offer universally free dental care to any group. Whilst some regions do offer dental care to certain children, this is not a universal policy, and means that  when they need any form of dental care, the vast majority of Spaniards must pay for private dental services. If a child in Madrid needs a filling, then the regional government will cover the cost for children aged between 6 and 15, but check-ups and preventative treatments are not free. In the Catalonia an Valencia regions, both check-ups and preventative treatments are free to all children between the ages of 0 and 14 years old. This has effectively created a ‘dental lottery’ system, where the level of dental care Spanish children receive is determined by where they happen to live.

What Will Happen If the Bill is Approved?

The aim of the new Oral Health Plan is to ensure that all children and vulnerable adults have the same and equal access to public dental care. The same treatment criteria would be applied across all of the 17 regions and two autonomous cities in Spain.

Whilst the bill is aimed at both children and vulnerable adults, the primary beneficiaries of the bill will be Spain’s 6.5 million children aged between 0-14, many of whom do not access dental care as regularly as they should due to financial constraints.

What Will the Oral Health Plan Cover?

Whilst a comprehensive list of the treatments that will be covered (and not covered) under the plan has not yet been released, we know that regular check-ups, cavity analysis, and minor interventions will all be free under the bill. Cosmetic treatments such as braces or teeth whitening will not be covered under the bill. It is hoped that once the bill is passed, parliamentary approval can be extended to include other options, such as co-payments for non-urgent medical transport or therapeutic dietary and ortho-prosthetic products, ensuring that access to all kinds of dental care is more affordable for children and their families. However, it will not cover the cost of cosmetic treatment such as braces or teeth whitening.

How Will the Government Pay for This?

The current aim is that this will be a solely public health endeavour. The draft law includes a clause stating that these free healthcare schemes cannot be managed by private companies, as is currently the case. This will prevent exploitation of assets, but will also mean that funding and managing the scheme will fall squarely on the government’s shoulders.

It has been proposed that the €44 million in free dental care funds will be taken from the €70 billion allocated by the EU as part of the bloc’s post-pandemic recovery plans.

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