Access is an important issue in health equality. Availability of dental services and cost subsidies is an important factor affecting access to denture restoration for the elderly. This study aims to explore access to denture restoration services in the elderly removable denture’s subsidy program of Taiwan.
Access to the elderly removable dentures subsidy program was measured from two aspects, that is, availability of subsidies and payment for these services and the characteristics of patients and their treatment needs. The first aspect included reimbursements and the number and location of subsidy clinics, and the second aspect included the age and gender distribution of patients and denture types. Information on reimbursement regulations and the number and location of dental clinics providing subsidized services were obtained from the website of the Taoyuan City Public Health Bureau, Taoyuan Hospital, Department of Statistics and Ministry of Health and Welfare. Data on patient characteristics and denture type were obtained through a retrospective survey. We selected individuals who participated in the elderly removable denture’s subsidy program from 2015 to 2018 at the Geriatric Dentistry Department of Taoyuan Hospital. We conducted data analysis using an interpretive approach.
This study found that reimbursement amounts are inadequate, and the availability of subsidized services is low. Moreover, the proportion of male applications is slightly higher than that of females. In addition, among the applicants, removable partial dentures for single or two arches are the most common.
Problems of insufficient numbers of contracted hospitals and low reimbursement amounts are observed in the subsidy program, which are the key factors affecting access to denture restoration services among the elderly. Policymakers should exclude wealthy individuals and offer subsidy only to low-income elderly individuals with missing teeth who are in dire need of financial support to improve their dental health.