The second stage of Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman’s plan to implement free dental care for all Israeli children went into effect this week. The law now covers all children up to age 15, and as of this week, a total of 2,440,000 Israeli children are eligible for free basic dental care.
The government has allocated NIS 40 million to cover the expansion of the program. Free dental care was first instituted in 2010, after a great deal of effort by Rabbi Litzman, who was health minister at the time as well. According to the bill, the age at which children are eligible for free dental care is supposed to be adjusted biannually, starting at age eight in 2010 and reaching age 18 by 2020.
Included in the package of treatment is basic dental hygiene, such as teeth cleaning, and filling of cavities. This year, the treatment package was expanded to include removing plaque.
In 2015, said the Health Ministry, 50 percent of children four years and older received free dental care at the various health clinics that offer it. The average amount spent by Israeli households on dental care fell in 2015 for the first time in a decade, the Ministry noted, citing that as evidence of the success of the program. According to Rabbi Litzman, “the expansion of the program brings social justice to many more children in Israel. Tens of thousands of children will continue to receive free dental care, and we will continue implementing this reform until it reaches all children up to age 18.”