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Dental Emergency 101

Jul 22, 2013


Photo source: futurity.org

The American Dental Association (ADA) reported last week that there are an increasing number of people visiting the emergency rooms for their dental problems.  According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the number of dental emergency room visits has increased by 1 million over 10 years.  Why such a steep increase?  Young Americans don't have dental coverage so they don’t seek the proper oral health care.

Over the past several years, there has been a steady increase in the number of adults between the ages of 19 and 49 without private dental insurance.  Many health insurance plans do not include dental coverage which has decreased the use of preventive care and oral health education.  As previously reported in Dental Wire, emergency rooms are filling with dental patients receiving treatments that would essentially “tide them over” until they can get dental care. 

This creates a two-fold problem.  The patients often don’t go to see a dentist due to the lack of dental coverage and become repeat emergency room visitors.  Second, these nontraumatic cases cause overcrowding and longer waits for those with serious medical emergencies.  Since hospitals are unable to see more patients, this causes a financial burden on the hospitals and the increased costs are passed down to the patients via higher health insurance premiums. 

The question remains if the Affordable Care Act and the creation of state exchanges will help decrease dental emergency room visits.  At the moment, the answer is no.  Thomas Wall, lead author of a research brief on dental related emergency room visits states that, “…the Affordable Care Act did little to address the issue of dental utilization in emergency departments.  The ACA does not mandate dental benefits for adults, nor are dental benefits likely to be included in the essential benefit packages in insurance plans sold through most states' exchanges under provisions of the law."

We have seen this in California.  Their state exchange, Covered California, has signed on six dental carriers offering nine dental plans, all but one being a stand-alone plan.  Covered California announced those plans would be participating starting October 1.  Currently there is controversy stirring around how the plans will be offered; however, it could be the first step in solving part of the dental related emergency room dilemma.  Luckily, children’s dental coverage, which has been deemed “an essential health benefit” of the ACA, may help close the gap on young Americans not having dental coverage.

Dental Insurance Store can help people get the proper oral care by providing several options for dental insurance and discount plans.  Our plans are affordable and many have no waiting periods for preventive care such as routine cleanings and x-rays.  Unlike Covered California and other health insurance exchanges, people do not have to wait until October 1 to enroll.  Purchasing a plan from us can limit the number of emergency room visits for dental issues as well as help bring down the overall cost of health care.  Visit our website or call one of our licensed agents at 888-299-6441 to enroll today. 

Source: American Dental Association


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