The programme was launched in August 2010 with the initial aim of giving all children free dental care up to age 8. In June last year, the plan was rolled out to other children up to age 10, and is expected to be further developed to include all children up to and including 18 year olds.
However, private dentists argue they cannot compete with this free service, and so have called for it to be scrapped. They also criticise the scheme as being limited in its scope. What’s more, it is said that the amount of money being put into the scheme is insufficient to cover anything more than just a first check up and cleaning.
The new government system has also been criticised for employing dental practitioners to carry out work on a piece by piece basis. As they are not salaried state employees, they are only paid for each procedure carried out and it is thought it could be damaging to patient care, as procedures are likely to be rushed in order to receive bigger payments. As such, dentists believe the new scheme is not only damaging to the profession but is also damaging to children’s dental care.
Prior to being launched, the Israeli government health department was lobbied by the Israeli Dental Association to allow private dentists to be involved in the system, but this was refused. The health minister wanted to implement the new scheme as quickly as possible and felt inclusion of private dentists would delay its implementation. He did accede to the idea of a dental fund in which parents could purchase services off a private dentist. However to date, this has not been set up.