Equity in dental care among Canadian households

Int J Equity Health. 2011 Apr 16;10:14. doi: 10.1186/1475-9276-10-14.


Background: Changes in third party financing, whether public or private, are linked to a household's ability to access dental care. By removing costs at point of purchase, changes in financing influence the need to reach into one's pocket, thus facilitating or limiting access. This study asks: How have historical changes in dental care financing influenced household out-of-pocket expenditures for dental care in Canada?

Methods: This is a mixed methods study, comprised of an historical review of Canada's dental care market and an econometric analysis of household out-of-pocket expenditures for dental care.

Results: We demonstrate that changes in financing have important implications for out-of-pocket expenditures: with more financing come drops in the amount a household has to spend, and with less financing come increases. Low- and middle-income households appear to be most sensitive to changes in financing.

Conclusions: Alleviating the price barrier to care is a fundamental part of improving equity in dental care in Canada. How people have historically spent money on dental care highlights important gaps in Canadian dental care policy.