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U.S. Dental Care Needs Major Surgery

Jan 17, 2017

By Dean George

There’s a lot of talk about what’s going to happen with health care coverage since November’s election. Depending upon whom you listen to, millions may lose their subsidized health care coverage while millions of others may have better plan options with lower deductibles and premiums.

For people concerned about what this will mean for access to dental care, we have two words for you: not much. 

Roughly half of Americans have no dental coverage, including a third of non-elderly adults.  Medicare excludes dental care, and only 12% of seniors are enrolled in individual dental plans.

As previously reported in Dental Wire, pediatric dental care is considered an essential health benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but adult dental care is not. For low-income adults, Medicaid does not require dental care at all and 22 state Medicaid programs pay nothing for adult dental care beyond emergency dental services.

A recent American Dental Association (ADA) report cites one study by the Federal Reserve that says dental care is believed the least affordable health care service.

Thirty-two percent of American adults said in a recent survey they skipped check-ups and dental care in 2016 due to high out-of-pocket costs.

This lack of access significantly impacts people’s overall oral health and routine behavior, according to the ADA. For example:

  • One in four Americans suffers from tooth pain
  • One in four Americans are less social because of their teeth or mouth problems
  • 23% are embarrassed about their teeth and the health of their mouth
  • Nearly 30% of young people admit they worry about their mouth and teeth during job interviews

Dental care “is one of the largest unmet health needs in the United States,” said Elizabeth Mertz, an associate professor in the School of Dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco.

A big problem with people neglecting regular dental care is that minor oral care molehills often lead to significant dental care mountains like periodontal (gum) disease, broken and lost teeth and catastrophic costs to fix those problems.

At Dental Insurance Store we do our part by offering plan options that make regular dental visits more affordable. To find plans in your area, click here.  

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Copyright 2017, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC© 

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