Dental care to cost $3B less than budgeted unless provinces drop coverage PBO says

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Published June 28, 2023 at 10:06 am

The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates the promised federal dental insurance plan will cost nearly $3 billion less than the government budgeted, assuming provincial governments don’t drop their coverage.

The Liberals promised a stand-alone dental insurance plan for low- and middle-income Canadians who don’t have private insurance as part of its supply and confidence deal with the NDP last year.

The program is expected to launch before the end of 2023, starting with qualifying people under the age of 18, people with disabilities and seniors.

The Liberals initially set aside $5.3 billion over five years to launch the program, but increased that amount to $13 billion in the last federal budget.

The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s latest costing note suggests the cost will be closer to $10.1 billion thanks in part to existing dental coverage, copayments and cost-recovery efforts.

However, the note warns that if provinces drop their coverage and refer people to the federal plan instead, the estimate would increase and the cost would be $2 billion more than the government has budgeted.

The Canadian Press

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