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Study: Poorer Families Not Taking Advantage of Free Dental Care

The law authorizing free dental care is not having the desired effect, a study shows.
By Moshe Cohen
First Publish: 5/26/2014, 11:01 PM

Dentists treat child
Dentists treat child
Flash 90

According to the law, children under 13 in Israel are entitled to free basic dental care – but a new study shows that the law is not achieving its goal of ensuring the dental health of Israeli kids.

According to the study by the “Doctors Only” organization, it is the children of middle class Israelis, not the poorer ones for whom the bill was meant, who are making use of the law.

Not that middle class Israelis are inundating free dental clinics. The study shows that many of those families prefer to use private dentists. They can afford to do so, and the private dentists offer better service.

The law authorizing free dental care was passed four years ago. At its first stage it provide free care for children 8 and under. Two years ago, the law was expanded to include children 12 and under.

Dental care in general is more popular among middle class families, the poll showed. An average of 57% of children from families where at least one parent graduated from college usually go to the dentist at least once a year, compared to 37% of children from non-academic families. Of the poorest 20% of Israelis, only 35% get dental care, compared to 50% of wealthier Israelis.

The poll was taken by analysts from the Brookdale Institute and the Health Ministry. The scientifically determined sample included 1,749 children ages 2-16 and their parents.