Alberta’s New Dental Fee Guide
For the first time in over 20 years the Alberta Dental Association and College have published a Dental Fee Guide. After many years of complaints surrounding costly fees and a lack of transparency, the guide was developed to put “downward pressure on the cost of services” and encourage a more informed consumer. While many believe the guide is a step in the right direction, most people are skeptical about the savings it will provide and believe that other measures must be implemented for true cost savings. An additional cause for concern is the voluntary nature of the guidelines, which does not put stringent regulations on the industry or encourage adherence to the recommended rates.
As it stands today, dental fees in Alberta are 26 to 32 per cent higher than elsewhere in the country; a substantial difference which has even resulted in some Albertans shopping for dental services outside of the province. Fees for something as simple as a check-up in Alberta are 146% higher than British Columbia, 112% higher than Ontario, and 106% higher than Saskatchewan. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has also been working with Alberta since 2015 to bring down these costs. Their President and CEO Stephen Frank has stated that they are working to introduce changes with a more substantial effect than the two or three per cent savings which they believe the new Dental Fee Guide will provide. In addition to a larger reduction in dental fees, the CLHIA also recommends that the dental association and dental college be split into two separate entities, to help reduce conflicting priorities and allow for the protection of both the public and dentist professional’s self interest.
The new fee guide went into effect on September 1st and many insurance companies have already adopted it as their standard for “reasonable and customary” reimbursement of dental expenses in Alberta.