The National Association of Dental Plans did an opinion poll earlier this year and discovered that more than half of all individuals with employer-sponsored dental benefits are “likely or very likely” to drop their coverage under health care reform financing proposals that tax health benefits.
The poll reported that 56 percent of employees would drop family dental benefits if annual taxes of $300 were imposed and 38 percent of them would drop their “employee-only” dental benefits if $100 in additional taxes were added. The tax amounts were calculated using the marginal tax rate plus Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes on the average annual premiums for employer-provided dental plans, i.e. $1,000 for families and $300 for individuals.
Currently 97 percent of dental benefits in the United States are provided through employers and other groups, the poll results indicate that 81.7 million individuals in the United States would join the ranks of the dentally uninsured if these benefits are taxed.
“Three decades of steady increases in employees with dental coverage and improvements in oral health would be wiped out by taxation of dental benefits. The impact of taxation falls heaviest on families,” said Evelyn Ireland, National Association of Dental Plans Executive Director.
Less dental benefits would result in less people seeing a dentist and would increase the number of other health issues in those individuals. Many diseases are diagnosed through dental examinations including nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, immune system problems, cancer and other conditions.
The Surgeon General reports individuals without dental benefits are 2.5 times less likely to go to the dentist. Scientific literature increasingly makes connections between gum disease and chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as preterm births. Treatment of dental diseases has led to medical cost savings. Without regular dental exams and early treatment individuals will experience more extensive and costly dental and medical procedures.
“What this poll, combined with the facts about the efficacy of dental benefits, tells us is the oral and overall health consequences of any form of taxation of benefits will ultimately add to the health care costs of the country and negatively impact the overall health of those individuals without benefits,” said Ireland.
There is an alternative choice for families today utilizing the consumer driven healthcare. A family would be able to enroll in an insurance alternative program that would provide tremendous savings at the dentist. Families would have the option to enroll in a nontaxable program and pay a small monthly fee of less than twenty dollars a month and would be able to save as much as up to 80% off the cost of their dental fees. For a family of four, the average savings, on preventive dental care would be about $1600 a year on exams, x-rays, and cleanings.
Programs that remove the government and the insurance company from the picture allows the client to deal directly with providers who are willing to give their patients discounted fees for their services, just might be the answer.
Copyright (c) 2009 Debbie Carroll
Author: Debbie Carroll, RN is a Health Educator and Consultant. She assists un