Children suffering in Iceland dentists dispute

Contract negotiations between Icelandic health authorities and dentists have come to an unsuccessful conclusion and no further talks are scheduled. The problem is already impacting the dental health of children in the country, according to the head of the dentists’ association.

Dentists have now been without a state contract since 1998. They have been meeting with the Icelandic Health Insurance Fund again recently; but negotiations have been halted at the behest of the authorities, RUV reported. As no further meetings have been called, the situation looks set to continue.

Dentists have instigated a 110-115 percent price increase on refunds from the state insurance fund, but authorities are not ready to honour the increased claims. Sigurdur Benediktsson, chairman of the Icelandic Dentists’ Association, is harshly critical of the state for not acting with dentists to assure good quality, cheap dentistry for children.

He said that the financial surplus amounting to hundreds of millions of kronur which could be used for children’s dental care is not being used properly. He said that the ongoing stalemate is already impacting on childhood dental health. A new survey has revealed that 42 percent of 0-17 year-olds in Iceland did not go to the dentist last year.

Iceland’s excellent national healthcare system is praised internationally for being highly affordable (although not free) for users. It does not, however, include dentistry. People with high dentist bills are usually able to claim part of the money back from the national health insurance fund.