The lack of dental coverage is a huge health crisis in America. The reason for this varies from those that are under-insured, uninsured, and a lack of providers that do not insure Medicaid or low-income families. In this current economic crisis, many just can’t afford dental coverage. It is on the very low list of priorities, yet the lack of coverage is so important because it can actually cost you your life.
With the lack of dental coverage on the rise, it plays a major role in school absences in children. School age children are experiencing a high rate of untreated tooth decay in their permanent teeth. This results in gum disease and can set up infection within the body causing severe illness and possibly death! There is currently no school requirement for annual dental screenings. Perhaps if the public schools would put a required emphasis on dental care as they do with immunization, it may result in better dental coverage and perhaps state-aid to help with funding. With the amount of homeless children and families that are homeless, the amount of tooth decay and gum disease will rise even more within the next few years.
The lack of coverage is also causing clinics to close due to too-low insurance reimbursement rates. For example, those with dental coverage through Medicaid were unable to find a provider to take their insurance. Or they could not get a timely appointment. The dental care providers that service the low income or uninsured are now having to close down their facilities because they can not function without money or reimbursement on services.
I researched from state to state and many states are experiencing significant problems in one way or another due to the lack of dental coverage. In the state of Massachusetts, out of 4,700 dentists, fewer than 800 take Medicaid patients. In Boston alone, untreated cavities exceed the national average. Ninety percent of Boston’s high school students need dental care. Connecticut and New York have begun to place dental offices inside their schools to combat the problem. In Cincinnati many are lining up before 7 a.m. with crying children to wait for dental care. There is also teenagers unable to eat, adults robbed of their sleep because of untreated cavities and abscessed teeth. And, in Cincinnati, the problem is getting worse. Studies have shown that dental pain and infection have become the number one reason why people go the University Hospital’s emergency room. This is devastating. In Kentucky, nearly half of the children ranging fro 2-4 years old, have cavities. In Ohio, about five percent of all third graders have never seen a dentist.
Making matters worse, the current economic crisis is endangering funding for public dental programs. It is also getting even tougher for people to find affordable dental insurance.
Have you ever experienced how excruciating dental pain can be? Now, imagine if you could go nowhere for relief. This infection can enter your body, from your mouth and cause a host of other health problems and issues. If these issues continue to go untreated, they could result in death.
We as Americans should be embarrassed to belong to a country with the resources and capacity we have, to be battling such a thing that should be prevented. We just have to figure out how to fix this problem.
I write this article under duress. I don’t have all the answers. I can only offer alternatives to dental insurance. Affordable Healthcare. I urge you to write your congressman in your area and see what, if any, scheduled plans are going to be implemented soon. These changes may already be in the works with the new Presidency and the Economic Stimulus Plan.
Cynthia is an Independent Representative and Regional Sales Director for AmeriPlan USA, the Largest Medical and Dental Benefits Plan, Nationwide. Cynthia provides affordable healthcare to everyone and saves them up to 80% on their services. Enroll today and Cynthia will pay a one month membership for you! Please send an email to [email protected], placing “Benefits” in the Subject Line. Cynthia will contact you and enroll you into one of the Benefit Plans.