TALLINN - The social affairs committee of the Estonian parliament has sent to first reading a bill seeking to expand the target group of people entitled to receive increased dental care compensation to also include the registered unemployed and people receiving a subsistence benefit.
Chair of the social affairs committee Siret Kotka said that the amendment concerns over 60,000 people in said vulnerable groups.
"Dental care is expensive and thus inaccessible to many. The unemployed and people receiving a subsistence benefit are already struggling as it is and their scarce resources are not enough to cover oral health care. The committee approving the bill today will give them an opportunity to start treatment," Kotka said.
Deputy chair of the committee Helmen Kutt said that the bill will definitely be of assistance to people who skip dental appointments due to other large expenditures.
"The compensation is not large, however, and it is not enough for major problems, but at least it will enable for people to go for a dental check up once a year and start treatment," Kutt said .
Under the amendments, the registered unemployed and people receiving a subsistence benefit will be entitled to a 85-euro dental care compensation per year with a mandatory own contribution of up to 15 percent starting from 2022. The registered unemployed number close to 60,000 in 2021 and subsistence benefit recipients who are not entitled to the current increased compensation and who are not unemployed have been estimated to number around 1,300.
Already entitled to increased dental care compensation under current legislation are people receiving pension for incapacity for work, people with partial or no work ability, people aged over 63 years, pregnant people or mothers of children aged below one year, as well as people with increased dental care needs due to an illness or a health care service performed.
The bill is planned to take effect from Jan. 1, 2022, and according to its explanatory memorandum, the amendments will increase the Health Insurance Fund's expenditures next year by slightly over one million euros.
The government-initiated bill geared at amending the Health Insurance Act will be put to first reading in the parliament on Oct. 27.