IS DENTAL COVERAGE INCLUDED IN OBAMA'S HEALTHCARE BILL?
In the turbulence that surrounded the passage of the healthcare reform bill in early 2010, most Americans were unable to comprehend exactly how the changes will affect them personally. While certain aspects such as pain management for seniors received a great deal of attention, most of the bill remained veiled in policitcal double-speak. Ask ten American's how the bill will affect dental coverage, for example, and few if any, will be able to give you a concrete answer.
Children Will Benefit Most from Healthcare Reform
Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease in this country, particularly among low income kids. It may be for this reason that the legislators who crafted healthcare reform put the needs of children first. Consequently, young Americans will see many positive benefits from the new law. First and foremost, Medicaid coverage will be expanded, and along with it the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In addition, grants will be available in all 50 states to encourage faculties to study the prevention of tooth decay in children, as well as to provide decay-preventing sealants for low income youngsters. Finally, the youngest segment of our population will benefit from additional funding for school-based health center facilities.
How Does Healthcare Reform Affect Adult Oral Health?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 45 million Americans currently do not have dental insurance. Unfortunately, the legislation passed in 2010 to make it easier for all Americans to obtain coverage did little to consider the dental needs of people over 21. According to Reuters, Americans must purchase health insurance by 2014 in order to avoid being fined. However, this requirement does not extend to specific vision or dental coverage.
As a result, it is feared that millions of the most vulnerable adult patients will continue to be unable to access the preventative care and more complex procedures they need in order to continue good oral health. And since tooth decay and gum disease are increasingly being linked to major medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and even miscarriage, this gaping hole in coverage also means poor overall health and increasing medical costs for millions of people.
Can Discount Plans Bridge the Gap?
When patients have to choose between putting food on the table and getting a cavity filled, the answer is clear. Because discount plans offer significant savings on a full range of basic and complex dental procedures, many of the most precariously balaced patients are spared from going into debt to pay for their dental work. Unfortuately for the patient, however, dental practices have the choice not to accept discount plans, since the cost per patient does not make monetary sense for the operation of the practice as a business.
Is Healthcare Reform a Positive Step for American Dental Care?
As with most pieces of legislation that are passed, the 2010 healthcare reform law contains many flaws and remains incomplete. The American Dental Association has been quick to discern that glaring lack of help for adults, particularly when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid. However, if you are a child from a family with a low income, or if you are thinking of studying dentistry, there are provisions in the law that could be of great benefit to you.