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Iceland Country Overview

Iceland is an island located in the North Atlantic Sea, and the country is sparsely populated. The country has made rapid development in the health sector. For example, the health status of men and women is good in Iceland as compared to other European countries. Life expectancy of the people is higher at the time of the birth, and people of Iceland usually enjoy good health and long life. Everyone in the country is entitled to the emergency health system, and the emergency dial number is 112 (“HEALTH SERVICES,” 2017).

However, oral health is not as good as general health because, according to a study, children in Iceland have poor dental health compared to their peers from the Nordic countries. According to a survey, there were only 270 practicing dentists in Iceland in the year 2012, and according to these statistics per doctor, there are 1184 patients. However, Iceland has more dentists per 1000 population as compared to other European countries except for Greece (Sigurgeirsdóttir, Waagfjörð, & Maresso, 2014). The percentage of female dentists is 33%, and they are actively practicing. Other than the workforce, the Icelandic Dental Association is the only professional association for practicing and registered dentists in Iceland. A total of 12 specialists in dental health services are recognized in Iceland.

All these services are Orthodontics, Endodontics, Paedodontics, Periodontics, Prosthodontics, Oral Radiology, Oral Surgery, Dental Public Health, Operative Dentistry, Occlusion, Oral Medicine and Geriatric Dentistry (Kravitz, Bullock, Cowpe, & Barnes, 2014). All these specialists work privately in their clinics, and patients can directly approach the specialists, except for the few doctors who have part-time jobs in the hospital. These doctors are self-employed and charge the fee according to the treatment provided to the patients. There are several treatments that have been reimbursed by the health insurance systems, such as examination, diagnosis, X-ray, and prophylaxis, as well as other types of investigations.

The health system of the country is publically funded and state-centered while providing universal health care services (Sigurgeirsdóttir et al., 2014). The healthcare services are funded by the state, and the finances for these services are obtained through taxes. The healthcare system in Iceland is financed by an annual national budget presented by the government. However, in health services, oral health services are not provided by the state and are usually patient-funded. This means that most of the oral health services obtained by individuals are out of pocket from the individual and households (Kravitz et al., 2014). There are some options for health insurance for dental fees, in which insurance companies provide limited assistance for dental fees. The Iceland health insurance (IHI) covers a part of the cost of dental services, but the facility is limited to children, people who have a pension, or disabled pensioners.

Also, IHI only reimburses the price for general dental care and does not cover the cost of implants or gold fillings. In other words, the services provided regarding oral health in Iceland are usually by private dentist practitioners. Dentists are the ones who fix the prices of the services to tackle oral health issues, and the reimbursement by IHI is only done for the prices that are set by IHI. If there is a difference in the price between the dentist and IHI, then the patient has to bear the price (Sigurgeirsdóttir et al., 2014). So, it is the responsibility of the patient to take care of their own oral health as well as the oral health of their family members. Parents take their children for the regular check-up of their teeth. The government has started taking the initiative to tackle the issues of oral health, such as children aged three, six, and twelve being entitled to surveillance and prevention at a dentist once a year, free of charge (Sigurgeirsdóttir et al., 2014). Other than that, the government has taken some steps to improve access to oral health services for children and adolescents, as well as increase the reimbursement for dental services.

There are several advantages of having a dental health care system, as it helps in the prevention of oral diseases and maintains oral health among people. Having a proper dental healthcare system will allow people to access state-run oral health services. However, having access to the dental health system does not ensure good oral hygiene among people. Providing the services does not signify that people are using the services, and other factors do not hamper access. For example, dental health services in Iceland are available, but these services are not state-funded.

Therefore, the percentage of people seeking oral health care is low, and the cost is one of the main barriers. For instance, according to a study carried out by the Icelandic Dental Association, 20 percent to 30 percent do not opt for a regular dental checkup because of finances. The children are reported to have increased carries experience, and one of the main reasons is the recent financial crises and decreased reimbursement of dental care in Iceland (Sveinsdottir & Wang, 2014). However, recent news has reported that all the children residing in Iceland are entitled to free dental care, and for that, all children need to have a registered dentist (Fontaine, 2018). Initially, the eldest child was getting the services, but now the program has been expanded to all children between 0-18 years of age. The progress is encouraging and would bring an affirmative outcome in the oral health of the children, which will impact their later age.

Iceland is a small island in the Atlantic Sea. The health services provided in Iceland are adequate, but the state lacks the ability to provide oral health services to its citizens. Having good dental health is essential for overall health, as having poor oral health will lead to several infectious diseases and other issues. The dental population ratio in Iceland is better than that of other Nordic countries. There are also specialists available across the country to provide the services. To access dental health services, citizens have to pay for the services they acquire. The Iceland Health Insurance (IHI) has taken the initiative to pay a part of the cost for dental services, but the facility is only for children, pensioners, and disabled pensioners. Out-of-pocket payment is one of the main barriers to access and utilization of health services. The country is aiming to take the initiative to provide dental health services.

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