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What Does the Medical Device Tax Mean for Dentists?

There is a lot of confusion about this new medical device tax so let’s clear things up.  As of January 1st, many dental manufacturers will get hit with a 2.3% tax on some of their products.  Here’s what you need to know:

(1) You do not need to raise your fees 2.3% across the board.  First of all, dentists are not the ones responsible for collecting this tax.  Second, there is an exact list of which dental materials and devices will get hit with the tax.  Check out the list and you’ll see there are plenty of materials that will stay the same.

(2) Although dentists aren’t responsible for collecting the tax, we can expect to see some manufacturer and lab costs increase.  So, yeah… it’s reasonable for us to raise our fees accordingly.  If a sudden 2.3% increase in the cost of doing business is being passed along to us then we may need to pass that along to our patients.

(3) You may want to double check any price increases from your vendors to make sure their products are on the list.  If your toothbrush sales rep says the prices are going up 2.3% to cover the new tax then he/she is very mistaken.

Of course, there are still more details to be worked out as this new tax is incorporated.

So is it fair for dental devices to be taxed?  My answer is: maybe.


Under the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) we will supposedly see improved dental coverage for children.  If this is done in a responsible manner then can be a great step forward for our profession.  Personally I’m not sure I’d like to have have mandated dental insurance coverage for adults.  But children deserve access to basic dental care regardless of their parents income.

Dental care for children will now be a right, not a privilege.  The excuse of financial hardships for parents could essentially disappear.  The only barriers that would remain would be educational and geographical.  The money to pay dentists to deliver this care has to come from somewhere and taxing certain dental devices seems appropriate.

I would be livid if our profession were taxed and there were no dental provisions in the health care act.  That would be taxation without representation!  But if this tax is appropriately collected and dispersed to dentists that provide care to children in need then perhaps the concept isn’t all that bad.  We’ll need to watch this issue unfold…


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