Methods of payment for oral health care in Yaoundé
Accepted: 30 May 2022
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Payment for dental services is one of the key determinants of treatment options, access to health care, and treatment decisions. The ability to pay for services directly affects the quality of life of an individual and also their accessibility to oral health services. The aim of the present study was to identify the different methods of payment used to obtain oral health care in Yaoundé, Cameroon This was a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out in selected dental clinics in Yaoundé using convenient sampling between January 2021 and June 2021. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire. A total of 377 patients aged 8 to 83 years made up of 194 (51.46%) females and 183 (48.54%) males participated in the study. There is no government-assisted package for oral health care in Cameroon and more than two-thirds (66.84%) made direct payments or paid out of pocket without a refund from any insurance company. More than half 147 (58.33%) of the study population did not complete the planned dental care due to insufficient funds. Direct payments covered treatments such as scaling, restorations, root canal therapy, and dental extractions while prostheses (dentures, crowns, bridges, and implants) were only afforded by very few patients. The reasons for the inability to pay for dental services included financial difficulties 107 (72.97%) and lack of time 36 (24.49%). Only half 36 (50%) of the participants employed in the formal sector had access to health insurance and treatments like scaling, dental prosthesis, orthodontics, and dental implants were rarely provided by an insurance company. These procedures were considered to be very expensive with fluctuating prices and were viewed as being for aesthetic purposes. The majority 67 (93.06%) of payments through insurance reported being reimbursed aftercare. Two-thirds of 48 (71.64%) of the insured participants said it was difficult to get reimbursed due to the administrative bottlenecks and as such some preferred to pay out of pocket despite being insured. Late consultations encountered led to caries complications with 105 (52.24%) pulpitis. In general, financial difficulty was reported by 97 (48.26%) as the main reason for not being able to afford dental care. Oral diseases present a huge burden for children and adults due to the high cost of treatment limiting their accessibility and treatment options. There is a need to create compulsory health insurance to enhance greater access to oral health services to encourage the population to seek dental care timeously.
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