Disturbing change made to children’s dental program

Disturbing change made to children's dental program Open Letter to Glenn Hart, minister of Health and Social Services: An unannounced change to the Yukon Children's Dental Program was recently brought to my attention. The Consent for Treatment Form for

Open Letter to Glenn Hart, minister of Health and Social Services:

An unannounced change to the Yukon Children’s Dental Program was recently brought to my attention.

The Consent for Treatment Form for the 2011/2012 school year that was revised in August 2011 contains an additional section not included on earlier versions that implies a change in government policy. This new section, entitled “Insurance Information,” asks parents if they are covered by private or other insurance. No explanation is provided as to why the information is being requested or how it would be used.

This change raises a number of important questions:

• Will families with private or other insurance find their insurance providers charged for the services formerly covered by the Yukon Children’s Dental Program?

• If so, might those families be responsible for paying a deductible on treatments, thereby increasing their health-care costs with no increase in the level of service?

• Might these additional claims also result in higher insurance premiums, thereby further increasing families’ health-care costs?

• How might the shift of some families from the public system to a private payment model impact the program’s ability to hire health-care staff to cover remaining students? Might the per-student cost to government increase?

• How might a child’s dental treatment be affected if their family’s insurance coverage changes during the school year?

The government appears to have made this policy change without any public consultation and without a public announcement. The new form asks for information without any explanation. Parents deserve to know the implications of these changes, why no one was consulted and why the changes were not announced.

The universal Yukon Children’s Dental Program was created to ensure that all children in the Yukon could access the dental care they need, and to create good dental health habits that would be carried into adulthood. This year, 2,545 children will be enrolled in the program and their families deserve an explanation of the program changes.

Yukoners should not have to dig for information about government policy changes that affect their lives. Government should be upfront and transparent with its policy decisions and expose them to public scrutiny.

I look forward to receiving your written reply.

Liz Hanson, leader

Yukon New Democratic Party