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Slovaks avoid their dentists

LAST year Slovaks failed to use up all the funds allocated by health insurers for preventive dental checks. The health insurance companies reported that more than Sk500 million of allocated funds were unused, the ČTK newswire wrote.

LAST year Slovaks failed to use up all the funds allocated by health insurers for preventive dental checks. The health insurance companies reported that more than Sk500 million of allocated funds were unused, the ČTK newswire wrote.

In Slovakia, insured adult patients can go for one free dental check per year. Health insurers cover two free checks for children. The insurers cover part of dental treatments for those who visit the dentist at least once a year. However, those who fail to undergo a preventive check are obliged to pay the full cost of any dental treatment they need during the following year.

The largest insurance company, Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa (VsŽP) reported that only about 1.5 million of its almost 3 million clients went to dentists for a preventive check last year. Its total costs for checks amounted to Sk321 million, Petra Balážová, the VsŽP spokesperson told ČTK.

Dôvera, the second largest insurer, reported about 436,000 free checks although the insurer had allowed for a total of 970,000. Other insurers experienced a similar situation.

Ján Gašič, the President of the Slovak Chamber of Dentists, says he is not happy about the interest Slovaks take in their dental health. Even though the number of preventive checks has been increasing, hundreds of thousands of people still avoid dentists. He estimates that in 2006 about 70 percent of people went to their dentists for check-ups, pointing out that some don't have contracts with any health insurer and therefore pay for the treatment themselves.

Dentists repeatedly call on people to get check-ups since preventive dental care is particularly effective.

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