Province’s dental care costs higher than anywhere else

Alberta dental care costs are among the highest in North America – but why?

British Columbia towns near the Alberta border tend to see plenty of patients willing to hop provincial lines for dental care. The reason? Dental care prices in Alberta average 20% to 30% higher than anywhere else in Canada, according to a report by the National Post. Some procedures, according to the report, can even cost double the national average.

For instance, an average checkup exam in B.C. is $99, according to Sun Life Financial and the B.C. Dental Association. In Calgary, it’ll run you an average of $209. While the average insurance payout for a tooth cleaning in Ontario is $110, it’s $140 in Alberta, the Post reported. According to a report by the Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan, the provinces prices for dental care are “generally considered (some) of the highest in North America.” And it’s only getting worse.

An analysis by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association found that dental prices in the province were going up an average of 5.6% each year – more than twice the rate in Ontario or B.C. And prices keep rising even as demand has dwindled with the recession and the departure of workers.

So what’s causing so much expense? It may come down to a lack of transparency, according to the National Post. In all other provinces, the government or a dental association publishes a fee schedule that lists suggested prices for various procedures. The Alberta Dental Association used to publish a fee schedule, too – but it stopped in 1997.

Now, Alberta customers have no easy way to find out what anything costs – and most of them have dental care subsidized through a benefits plan. That being the case, there’s not much incentive for dentists to price competitively.

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