Corona is changing so many things. Some sectors of the economy grind to a halt, others boom. One impact that has not been on the radar of many is the fact that dental treatment is becoming more expensive because of the virus. We show why and ask whether this will always be the case.
Corona drives up the price of dental treatment – causes
Running a dental practice is a business like any other. It is about profit. A dentist has 40-50 hours a week at his/her disposal. During this time, he / she has to treat, say, 20-30 patients per day to make a meaningful income. Most of these patients are insured with a health insurance company, usually a statutory one. The insurance company pays a fixed amount for each treatment. The experts from the Thun dentist told us that the far more important source of income is measures where the clients pay a large part of the sum themselves. So dentures and implants etc. They are lucrative because sometimes high, four-digit amounts change hands there. Such procedures are not quite so rigidly fixed. It is up to the dentists to decide how much they want to charge.
With regard to Corona, the situation is now like this: Due to the strict regulations of the legislator, productivity has decreased. More time is calculated between patients so that they do not meet in the waiting room. After each treatment, the rooms have to be sterilised much better. Thus, the doctors only have a possible 15-25 clients a day. Since many of them come with problems that fall under the responsibility of the health insurance, the income cannot be adjusted to the new situation. The only possibility is to start with the treatments, whose cost rates are not predetermined. Thus, most dental treatments have been given a proper surcharge. This is the only way to bring the income situation back to a normal level. The health insurance funds will also have to set new rates at some point. But as it is with quasi-public authorities. Things always take much longer there than in the private sector. So the prices have to be passed on to the patients in a different way.
Another cost driver are the measures taken to prevent infections within a practice. These include expensive medical masks, disinfectants galore and extra cleaning work. All these things are not cheap and have to be financed somehow. There are subsidies from the state for all kinds of things, but even there there are always delays and bureaucratic hurdles that have to be overcome somehow. So they also drive up the price.
What it will look like after the Corona pandemic is uncertain. The question is whether there will be such a thing as an end at all. Some virologists are convinced that we will not be able to live normally again for years, because mutants and vaccines will be in a permanent race against each other. If health insurance companies do not raise their rates or raise them insufficiently, dental patients will face massive inflation.