Input from the dental sector adds value to the municipal dentistry project

Input from the private dental sector has been taken on board by the project for the municipal dental service, currently going through the preliminary administrative process. Considerations presented include the setting up of a social pricing system, to be worked on with professional entities, as well as a commitment to locating the dental clinic in a neighbourhood with a socio-economic level below average. The project has also received a positive evaluation from the Catalan Competition Authority.

14/03/2019 13:23 h

Mireia Alonso

Response and incorporation of proposals

The professional dentistry organisations Col·legi d’Odontòlegs i Estomatòlegs de Catalunya (COEC), the Col·legi Oficial de Protètics Dentals de Catalunya (COPDEC), as well as the SME organisation PIMEC and the doctors’ union Sindicat de Metges de Catalunya (MC), presented the City Council with their considerations during the period for objections and suggestions. Various queries were made during this period relating to legal aspects, competition, pricing, public subsidies and the location of the future dental clinic. The City Council responded to all the proposals, incorporating 65% of them into the project, based on legal and technical studies detailing all the characteristics of the service. In relation to the queries on subsidies, the City Council made it clear that in no event will the municipal clinic be subsidised directly.

Proposals taken on board by the project include the setting up of a social pricing system, to be worked on with professional entities and which can be voluntarily adopted by other dental clinics. In addition, there will also be a commitment to locating the new facility in a neighbourhood with an economic profile below the city average.

Endorsed by the ACCO

In order to ensure the project doesn’t affect the freedom of the market, the City Council requested a preliminary report from the Catalan Competition Authority (ACCO), affiliated to the Government of Catalonia. The resulting report makes a positive evaluation of the municipal initiative as it can help boost access to dental services among a section of the population which doesn’t have access under the current market conditions due to a lack of resources. According to the last national health survey in 2017, this situation applies among 12% of the population of Catalonia.

The report also indicates the benefits the project can have, as it means more competitive pressure in the market, even though this may imply certain risks. Finally, the report concludes that the municipal project is unlikely to influence prices in the dental sector as the initial operation is a small-scale service compared to the dental industry as a whole in Barcelona.

Definitive vote in the full council meeting for March

Full details of the municipal dental service will be made available on 19 March so that municipal groups can debate it with the input from the objection and suggestion period included. An initial debate will be held by the Commission for Social Rights, Culture and Sports on 19 March, with the debate and the definitive vote to follow in the full council meeting of 29 March.

The creation of the municipal dental service is not linked to the free dental service presented a few months ago for people in vulnerable situations.

Necessary service for citizens

The final report and description of the service, to be made available for municipal groups to debate and eventually approve, includes a survey on the municipal dental clinic. In the survey, 95.9% of people interviewed believe it would be good or very good if the City Council offers a dental service with pricing in line with real costs, with 80% stating they would use the service. Some 94.3% of people also consider that going to the dentist is expensive or very expensive, and 95.6% are either in favour of or very in favour of the service being covered by the national health system.

The survey was conducted between 28 January and 2 February and based on 400 interviews made at random either in person or by telephone.

The municipal dental service is due to be rolled out gradually, with just one centre operating in the first year with an estimated capacity for handling up to 18,000 patients. Later on, the feasibility plan calculates that the service could handle a volume of 36,000 patients a year. The City Council calculates that prices could initially be up to 40% lower than current rates.


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