Reducing the Cost of Dental Care

Robert T. Kudrle and Lawrence Meskin, editors

Reducing the Cost of Dental Care was first published in 1983.

Spiraling heath care costs have encouraged health care practitioners, public policy-makers, and consumers to find ways of maintaining high quality care at affordable rates. Reducing the Cost of Dental Care examines a number of ways in which cost savings might be realized in dentistry. This collection of papers, written by health economists and dentists, brings together economic issues and health care aspects of the debate. Each of the six chapters addresses a particular issue concerning cost and quality of care.

Chapter one shows the probable effects on dental costs of advertising, franchising, multiple-dentist practices, and greater use of auxiliary personnel. Chapter two explores alternatives for the delivery of dental care: prepaid group practices, government-sponsored programs, and dental care delivered in school and workplaces. The third chapter focuses on cost savings which could result from increased use of auxiliary personnel, a practice which is presently illegal. A chapter on changes in dental education suggests that less important material be eliminated from dental school curriculums and that students be trained to practice cost-conscious dentistry. Chapter five presents, through computer simulation, the varying costs of different patterns of care: preventative, intermittent, or care as a response to symptoms. Chapter six explores quality assurance systems which can monitor the type of treatment and the level of care and skill provided by dental personnel. The introduction and conclusion of the book deal with another important issue, cost increases which are due to third-party payment. The editors discuss the costs and benefits of the growth of dental insurance.

Throughout, the aim in this volume is to present practical suggestions for reducing costs without sacrificing quality care. Where possible, the authors suggest ways of improving access to dental care for groups who are now outside the delivery systems. The papers are written to be accessible to dentists, economists, policy-makers, and all those involved in health delivery systems.

Robert T. Kudrle, adjunct professor in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, is an economist who specializes in health care policy.

Lawrence Meskin was dean of the dental school, University of Colorado, and former chair of the department of health ecology in the dental school at the University of Minnesota.

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