The State of American Dental Care

by Cathy Miller on May 20, 2014

in Dental

Dental appointmentDental care is like health screenings.

We know we should schedule a visit but we don’t always follow through.

From fear to increasing out-of-pocket costs, we have a variety of reasons for not visiting our dentist (if we have one).

The 2013 State of American Well-Being offers further insight into the state of dental care.

Dental Care Visits

According to the Well-Being survey, individuals with the following characteristics had fewer visits to a dentist.

  • Smokers − Smokers reported fewer visits (49 percent) than non-smokers (69 percent)
  • Health insurance − People without health insurance had fewer visits (37 percent) than those with insurance (70 percent)
  • Personal doctor − People without a personal doctor had fewer visits (44 percent) than people with a personal doctor (71 percent)

The report did not indicate if those with health insurance had dental insurance, too.

The report also shares the incidence rates of people with health conditions who have not visited a dentist in the last 12 months (as illustrated below) versus those who did.

 

Dental Stats

Dental Coverage

Workers who receive benefits through an employer are more likely to have dental benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Dental coverage − The majority (73 percent) of Americans under the age of 65 with private health insurance have some form of dental coverage.
  • No dental coverage − Over one-quarter (26 percent or approximately 45 million people) have no dental coverage.

Once an employer-paid benefit, an increasing number of employer sponsors moved dental benefits to a voluntary benefit − meaning employees pay the full premium.

Individuals who purchase their own insurance are less likely to have dental coverage − only 1 percent according to a recent study.

Health reform’s Affordable Care Act addressed
pediatric dental care only.

While the typical dental plan may have increased annual maximums, major dental procedures leave many patients with hefty bills.

To give you an idea of cost, the following are estimates for Boise, Idaho (which tends to be less expensive than other parts of the country).

  • Crown – Porcelain/Ceramic Substrate – $801-$1,059
  • Root Canal, Molar Tooth – $733-$990
  • Lower Partial Denture – $1,145-$1,527

Source for estimates: Estimate Cost of Dental Care

From my point of view, the state of dental care (and dental insurance) remains a broken state. Despite numerous reports of the link between dental disease and other health conditions, dental care lacks the focus it deserves.

Of course, that’s the biased view of a former dental hygienist. What do you think?

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Notice of Disclaimer –Cathy Miller is not an attorney or health care provider and cannot provide legal or health care advice. The information provided is for your general background only, and is not intended to constitute legal or health care advice as to your specific circumstances. We recommend you review legislation with legal counsel and visit your physician for health care issues.

BigStock Photo Credit

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