Centre for Policy Studies, University College, Cork, Ireland
* Corresponding author E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The unique characteristics of dental disease, such as its predictability, non-communicability, ease of diagnosis, and its extensive prevention possibilities, should result in greater cost control and an expectation of a better operation of the market mechanism than in general health care. These differentiating features, however, also increase the likelihood that services are over-consumed and/or over-provided. The most influential feature determining efficient resource use in health care provision is the type of payment system. A per capita system serves as a link between the dentist’s future income and service provision, and provides equity in terms of coverage and access. The result is that patients may benefit from fewer unnecessary treatments, and encounter more preventive activities. The system is limited by the potential for under-treatment and problems with patient selection.
With fixed salary, the dentist's income is independent of service provision, with incentives for low production, which leads to high costs per patient. Salaried dentists generally provide more prevention services, and allow the targeting of services to priority or
The optimal dental contract may be a ‘blended’ payment system whereby dentists receive a proportion of their income through capitation, a proportion from allowances and proportion from fee-per-item of service.