Around 20 percent of people in Czechia are not registered with a dentist

The shortage of stomatologists in Czechia explains the high proportion of people who have health insurance but no dentist.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 18.05.2023 11:00:00 (updated on 18.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

About one in five people with health insurance in Czechia is not registered with a dentist, data from the Czech Dental Chamber (CSK) released Wednesday shows. Prague, Karlovy Vary, and West Bohemia had the highest proportion of people without dentists. Residents living in the regions of Vysočina and Zlín were most likely to be registered with a dentist.

More registered, but plenty without dentists

However, owing to increasing demand, the proportion of registered patients increased by 18 percent in the past four years. "We have provided dentists to 2.2 million people in the past two years," said CSK president Roman Šmucler. If people do not have a dentist, Šmucler said, they should contact their health insurance company, which is legally obligated to provide the patient with one. 

A shortage of dentists

There are currently about 6,800 dentists in Czechia, 1,000 of whom do not have contracts with Czech health insurance companies (such as VZP). Many dentists opt not to have contracts with health insurance companies (and therefore take patients privately) because according to them the financial compensation from health insurance companies is not enough.

According to the CSK, about 1 million people are unregistered either because they do not know how, or because they opt to go privately (due to issues such as long waiting times or hassle in registering).

A nationwide shortage of dentists has been causing lengthy wait lists for dental treatment in Czechia. Data from the World Health Organization shows that in 2019 Czechia had 7.3 dentists per 10,000 population – lower than the EU average of 7.7. 

Areas shaded in red have a shortage of dentists (Source: VZP)
Areas shaded in red have a shortage of dentists (Source: VZP)

Tempting dentists to work

Shortages affect villages more than other places due to dentists’ opportunities to earn better money in big cities. Small towns and villages are said to be “fighting” over dentists, with municipalities even offering benefits such as apartments, cars, and equipment subsidies to attract dentists to work in their area.

Other reasons for the lack of dentists are overly complex procedures and needless bureaucracy that prevent otherwise qualified dentists from practicing, according to Pavel Gratcl, a dentist in Moravia, in Dení

One case study from November illustrates the country’s dental problem: when a dentist announced he was accepting new patients in a South Moravian town, some 1,000 people queued – many overnight – for a chance to be registered.

President of the Association of Health Insurance Companies Ladislav Friedrich told that the public health insurance system should do more to entice and retain dentists via financial incentives. Friedrich also noted that their share of public insurance funding has increased in recent years.

The relatively large proportion of people in Czechia without dentists is symptomatic of a systemic issue; an increase in stomatologists and decrease in waiting times would likely remedy the issue.

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