Orthodontists told to slash their fees

Orthodontists have been over-charging patients for years and must now cut their fees by 29%, the Dutch health authority NZa said on Tuesday. The NZa, which acts as a health service watchdog on behalf of patients, says the move will cut a standard course of treatment by €200.

Orthodontists fees were already reduced by 8% in 2005 and frozen at that level because of concerns that they were too high. Now an NZa investigation says the fees must come down further over the next four years. The first price cut of 2.5% is scheduled for July 1.
The NZa says the reduction will save consumers some €25m a year. A simple course of treatment involving a removable brace will cost €900 by 2009, compared with €1,100 now, the healthcare authority says. Orthodontists are yet to react to the plans.
Braces and other orthodontic work is only included in basic health insurance packages in extreme circumstances, such as for cleft palates. Instead, treatment is covered in top-up insurance packages, often with a fixed maximum payout, meaning consumers pay a large part of the bill themselves.
The NZa warned that other healthcare fees would also be investigated. ‘There has been concern about the cost of braces for year which is why orthodontists were tackled first,’ the NZa said.

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