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Dental care becoming a 'luxury' in France

Published: 25 Nov 2013 13:04 GMT+01:00

In its recent report the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) commended France’s health care system for having the second lowest up-front charges for patients in Europe.

However the country’s dental care system does not appear to be in as good a condition and has come in for criticism by a collective of French consumer rights groups on Monday.

In their joint report that will appear on the website of rights group “60 Million Consumers” the collective says access to dental care in France is becoming a “luxury” and denounced the high costs of treatment and "abuses" by dentists, which are putting many patients of seeking the necessary care.

In the French health system most patients are required to pay up front for the treatment, which is then reimbursed to varying degrees by a combination of the state and private insurance companies called “mutuelles”.

However consumer groups say far too little of the increasing costs of care are being handed back to patients. In 2012 the state’s social security system did not reimburse a total of €6 billion that the public had spent on health care, according to the report.

The report points to the steep costs of having a crown put on, or even a false tooth being inserted, which cost the patient up to €400, less than half of which is reimbursed.

And for orthodontic treatment, of which the average cost is €650 a month, less than €200 will be paid back by the state’s health insurance “L'Assurance maladie”.

The report accuses dentists of abusing the system by charging way over the odds for treatment. Not mincing it’s the report talks of “fraud” and “unacceptable abuses” on the part of dentists, pointing to the fact some of them are charging 86 percent higher for the removal of a wisdom tooth than the recommended price laid down by the 2006 Dental Convention.

They are also opting to offer patients the most expensive form of treatment despite cheaper options being available, the report claims.

How have you found dental care in France? Exhorbitant or still way cheaper than in the US, Britain or Ireland?

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Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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