Dental hygienists worried PST on insurance premiums will reduce access

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Dental hygienists worried PST on insurance premiums will reduce access

Dental hygienists raised concerns that adding the PST to health insurance premiums will reduce access to dental care in Saskatchewan at a meeting with MLAs in Regina on Monday.

The Saskatchewan Dental Hygienists Association organized the meeting to enlighten MLAs on the rate of oral disease in the province.  

Association executive director Kellie Watson said the group was raising concerns about the provincial budget decision to apply the six per cent PST to health insurance premiums.

Insurance premiums will have the PST applied starting July 1 — adding $157.9 million to the treasury this year.

"Employers will now have to pay six per cent on their current health benefits, which will significantly impact the amount of people that get employer health and dental benefits," said Watson.

She said the hygienists group would also be asking MLAs to update the Dental Disciplines Act to help dental hygienists provide better care for more vulnerable people.

More people could be accessing care: SDHA 

Watson added that there were ways that dental hygienists could reduce costs to make health care more effective in the future.

"We believe that there's a good amount of people in our province that are not accessing care that they should be," she said.

"And we want to reconnect the body with the head and neck and the mouth, and make sure that people know that oral health and systemic health is definitely connected."

No significant impact, says MLA

Estevan MLA Lori Carr was one of the MLAs who met with the hygienists on Monday.

She disagreed the PST change would have a significant impact on access to insurance.

"Some tough budget decisions were made and this was an area we decided to go in," she said.

"As a government we don't feel it's going to have a huge impact on it."