, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 99-106

Choices and utilization in dental care

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We examine the determinants of the utilization of dentists’ services among adults entitled to age-based subsidized dental care, using data from the Finnish Health Care Survey of 1996. We apply a three-part model to investigate the care-seeking decision, the choice of a private/public dentist, and the number of visits to each chosen dentist. Seeking care is found to be determined mainly by dentist’s recall and mostly deterred by the expense of private care. Insufficient public availability and recall positively affect the choice of a private dentist, whereas income and dentist density increase the number of private visits. Need and socioeconomic variables are controlled for and are also important determinants. The findings suggest that lowering copayments and user fees and increasing the public supply of dental care, accompanied by an efficient recall system, might improve access to dental care and better steer the choice between sectors.