Does Government-Provided Health Care Lead to Bad Teeth?
In the United Kingdom, at least, my former colleague Delia Lloyd says the answer to that question is “yes.”
The problem, as usual, is perverse incentives which arise out of the difficulty of developing sensible formulas for reimbursement.
Amidst her description of how and why the incentives for dentists are distorted in the United Kingdom, Delia recounts her own experience with a root canal:
I witnessed this dilemma personally when I was in need of a root canal myself. My dentist told me that I had the choice of pulling the (otherwise healthy) tooth for the flat NHS rate of $76 or going private and paying 650 pounds (roughly $1,070) to do a root canal. He wasn’t willing to run the risk of doing the root canal himself for the NHS fee. As he put it starkly, why risk a lawsuit doing a root canal that takes several hours to do properly when you could just pull the tooth and be done with it? I went private.