Dental insurance is a forgotten subset of health insurance. Dental care and dental insurance are issues that must be addressed in the fight for health care reform.
Forty-seven million Americans have no insurance; seven million are ages 50-64. People without dental insurance don't get the care or the teeth they need. If they can't eat, they get sick and ultimately cost the government more money than they would have if they had gotten proper dental care, defeating the purpose of affordable health care.
When did prevention become unaffordable?
· Dental disease is as related to overeating as it is to diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and osteoporosis.
· People who are missing teeth suffer from digestive problems due to the inability to chew, inadequate nutritional intake, and therefore, a decreased quality of life.
We should worry about people with no insurance because we could be next. The gap between those with and those without insurance is increasing.
Americans are losing their health and dental insurance coverage to lay-offs, unemployment, and the rising cost of health care. Employers are cutting insurance benefits for their current employees, employees retiring early, and already retired employees.
Dental insurance is not uniform across the United States because there is no regulation for insurance companies to determine reimbursement levels. Similar to medical HMOs, dental HMO managed care is concerned with cost containment, which means that, while the insurance companies continue to make a profit, dental professionals must accept lower fees and see more patients to absorb their losses.
How can dental professionals perform proper dental care under these circumstances? Some compensate for their losses in their quality of care: less time per patient, less expensive materials.
· The average $1,000 annual benefit paid is the same total benefit that was available in 1974. Fees increase, dental insurance coverage does not.
· There are people with no teeth who have to choose between buying food or medication and getting dental help.
· Dentures can cost over $1300. Who's going to hire someone with no teeth?
· AARP's dental insurance coverage allows for only one (1) periodontal cleaning every five (5) years, which is not enough to save everyone's teeth. (It's in the small print.)
Disabled and elderly people live for years without dental care. Untreated dental infections from decayed and abscessed teeth can cause death. Is that an ethical decision or a financial decision? Do you care if it doesn't affect you or someone close to you?
The cost of medical and dental insurance co-payments and prescription drugs continues to increase. Medicare and Medicaid are continually targeted for budget cuts. With our encouragement (public demand), our government leaders (it will take an act of Congress) must take the initiative to resolve the issues that keep us from achieving complete health and dental benefits.
What I know for sure is that it's all connected. Please call, write, or email your Congressman or Congresswoman to make a difference.
Saundra Goodman is the author of an inspiring and invaluable book titled Got Teeth? ASurvivor's Guide, How to keep your teeth or live without them. Saundra is an expert on how to have and keep a beautiful smile, even with replacement teeth.
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