Reports 2015/40

Expenses for dental treatment

A socioeconomic analysis of adult recipients of national insurance reimbursements

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In general, the adult population (aged 21 years and older) needs to pay for its dental examinations and treatment. Nevertheless, National Insurance provides full or partial financial support for people with special needs in relation to dental treatment, according to the National Insurance Act § 5-6. In 2014, there were 15 different disorders and diseases stated, so-called activation thresholds, which gave a right to reimbursement under the National Insurance Act. These dental reimbursements should ideally be distributed based on the needs of the patient, regardless of education, income or where they live. Nevertheless, there are both regional and socio-economic aspects of the current reimbursement system that can make effects unpredictable and not work as intended.

The aim of the report is to provide a socio-economic analysis of people who received reimbursements for dental treatment in 2014 as a whole and for various diseases and disorders (activation thresholds). The report shows how disbursements vary in the adult population by age and sex, and by various socio-economic and regional background characteristics. Furthermore, the paid reimbursements are presented both in terms of total amount, average and median. By conducting logistic regression models, various factors have been analyzed to identify statistical correlations between receiving dental health reimbursements and different characteristics of the persons in the population, between receiving dental health reimbursements and different characteristics of the persons in the population. The statistically significant correlations are also evaluated in relation to each other and in relation to theory and previous empirical findings in this area. The report is based on data from KUHR (control and payment of health reimbursements) from 2014 and is coupled with various information from Statistics Norway’s administrative registers.

The results of the report show that age seems to be the most important explanatory factor in terms of explaining the distribution of dental health reimbursements in the adult population. The results also show disparities for groups with different socio-economic and regional background characteristics in relation to receiving dental health reimbursements. This applies both for all reimbursements and by different activation thresholds. With regard to socio-economic characteristics, there is a higher proportion receiving reimbursements among benefit recipients and among people with low education levels compared with the rest of the population. Meanwhile, the figures show a lower proportion of reimbursement recipients among people with low income than among people who do not have a low income. With regard to regional characteristics, the results show that the proportion receiving reimbursements is higher among residents of central municipalities than residents in less central municipalities. The average refund amount is higher in groups with a low socio-economic status compared with groups with a higher socio-economic status. This may indicate that the need for treatment is higher in these groups compared with the rest of the population.

The results from the analysis support the results presented in Chapter 4. There are both socio-economic and regional factors that seem to influence the probability of receiving benefits. Age still seems to be the strongest explanatory factor in terms of what affects the probability of receiving refunds. The probability of receiving reimbursements increases with age, until the oldest age groups, when it starts falling. The age distribution among recipients looks primarily to be a result of the treatment needs of different age groups for the various thresholds.

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