Almost half of Flemish dentists charge what they want

According to figures from the country’s health mutual, 45% of Flemish dentists charge more for at least some of their services than prices set by the Health Department. In order to be a so-called “conventionalised dentist”, a dentist must stick to the Health Department’s price list. However, a growing number are not doing so and charge more for at least some of the oral health care services they offer. Many dentists believe that the prices set by the authorities are simply too low.         

The price list comes about as a result of talks and consensus reached by the dentists themselves. The idea is that patients don’t get any unpleasant (financial) surprises when they go and visit the dentist. The agreement on the tariffs that may be charged by conventionalised dentists was passed by a small majority last year.   

40% of dentists in Belgium as a whole and 45% of dentists in Flanders have decided to opt out and set their own tariffs. This is a quarter more than 10 years ago.

Dentists that don’t stick to the tariffs agreed on last year, charge extra in the form of supplements. Patients pay these out of their own pocket.  

Stefaan Hanson of the Flemish Dentists’ Federation told journalists that “It is indeed the case that the patient has to pay a lot out of their own pocket, but that is due to the poor refunding system. For many years, the Belgian authorities have been investing to little. Less than 3% of the (health) budget goes to dentistry. In Germany this is 10%.

In a response, the Health Minister in Belgium’s caretaker federal government Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) said that resources are limited and that in recent years the focus has been on prevention and vulnerable groups such and cancer patients.