Japanese government approves dental palladium price hike
An advisory group to Japan’s health minister on Wednesday approved a contingency plan to increase government-set dental compensation in May for “silver” fillings containing palladium, mostly produced in Russia.
The increase, which will lead to higher prices for dental treatments involving such fillings, comes as palladium prices have soared since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which is Japan’s second-largest supplier of the rare metal. .
So-called silver amalgam fillings containing palladium and other metals are covered by national health insurance, with dentists’ compensation for these treatments being reviewed in January, April, July and October of each year due to fluctuating prices of market for the materials used.
With the market price of palladium rising beyond supply issues, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will add a further hike to the amount decided in April.
According to a ministry proposal, the fixed cost of silver filling materials covered by National Insurance will increase by about 8% from the currently fixed 3,149 yen ($25) per gram.
In the case of a patient under the age of 70 who pays 30% of the total over-the-counter dental costs, the increase should result in an increase of several hundred yen for each silver filling.
According to trade statistics from the Ministry of Finance, 34.5% of Japan’s palladium imports came from Russia in 2021, second only to South Africa with 48.8%.
Global demand for the metal had increased even before the Russian invasion.
The government recently designated palladium as an important raw material that must be stably secured from producers other than Russia.
Dental costs in Japan will jump as palladium prices rise during war in Ukraine