Watchdog slams ad that misled over NHS dental care for kids

Watchdogs have slammed an advert for private insurance that implied children’s dentistry was not covered by the NHS.

HSA’s health plans advert showed the thoughts of a woman in the car with her family, wondering how she could afford new glasses for herself, keep up with her children’s dental check-ups and cope if her husband’s back treatment became expensive.

A puppet popped up at each question and replied ‘Hey, jus’ say’, with the final voiceover saying: ‘To help pay for check-ups, treatment and emergencies … hey, just say. HSA. Healthplans. Simple. Affordable.’

The Advertising Standard Authority (ASA) upheld complaints that the ad was misleading because it implied there was a cost for children’s dental check-ups and treatment, when it was available free under the NHS.

Further complaints that the husband’s back problems would not be covered immediately because of a two-year moratorium for existing conditions were also upheld.

HSA acknowledged that children were entitled to free NHS dental treatment but said many parents preferred private dentistry or were unable to find an NHS dentist in their area.

The company provided NHS Statistics showing that 100,000 fewer children visited a dentist in England in the two years ending December 2007 than in the two years ending December 2006.

HSA also argued that physiotherapy for a pre-existing back condition was covered by most, though not all, of its plans.

However, the ASA ruled that not all viewers would be aware that children’s dentistry was still free under the NHS and said the ad wrongly gave the impression a charge was normal.

The ASA also said that the ad had implied physiotherapy for existing conditions was available on all plans because it did not state otherwise.

HSA’s ad breached the clauses of the Committee of Advertising Practise code on misleading advertising and qualifications and the ASA ordered the company not to broadcast it again in its current form.

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