Health care: why do some Belgians postpone their visits to the dentist since covid?

The Grand Barometer RTL Info-Ipsos-Le Soir revealed a few days ago that one in three Belgians had to cut back on their health care. This mainly concerns visits to the physiotherapist and the dentist. Since the covid crisis, there are fewer patients. Why ?

Dentist for 30 years, Nathalie notices that fewer and fewer patients come regularly to perform their care because of the covid crisis and the financial crisis.

“We actually see that in terms of calls, since September, there are things that have been delayed. We will do October or November instead or we will postpone because the budget for the month of September is already toast”says the dentist. “We have some patients who cancel their appointments, who say they will call back later and unfortunately sometimes we don’t see them for a year, two years”, she adds.

However, Nathalie remains under agreement with access to free care for children up to 18 years old, thanks to the third-party payment system set up by the Health Insurance Institute. For Michel Devrise, who chaired the Belgian dental medicine society, there are no objective reasons to postpone care covered by social security.

“Someone who does not even have the possibility of advancing the money has the possibility of requesting the application of third-party payment. There, the dentist is paid directly by the health insurance fund without having to ask the patient to advance the payment. ‘silver”, explains the former president of the French-speaking Belgian dental medicine society.

During the 2020 covid crisis, visits to the dentist saw a 9-10% slowdown. Since then, a catch-up has nevertheless taken place. “We had a growth of 18% in 2021 because we obviously had to provide care that had not been provided by the covid crisis”, emphasizes Michel Devriese.

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Figures from the Health Insurance Institute for the 1st and 2nd quarters of this year show an increase in attendance of 4 to 5% compared to last year, although some dentists are noticing fewer patients.