It's important for Americans to understand that the Affordable Care Act (ACA)will not help everyone gain access to dental care. According to the Children's Dental Health Project, the ACA will extend dental coverage to children, but not adults. This is why, regardless of the ACA, adults should still look into discount dental plans to help them afford their care. Furthermore, some children may still have trouble gaining access to dentists in their areas.
According to a recent report conducted by NPR while the ACA will offer dental coverage to many children, that doesn't mean that there will be dentists willing to treat them all.
Plenty of kids, not enough dentists
NPR reports that now that millions more children may get dental coverage, there will have to be enough dentists to meet their needs. However, not all dentists are willing and able to treat children.
"Many dentists aren't comfortable seeing young children," Colin Reusch, a senior policy analyst at the Children's Dental Health Project who co-authored a recent study on the law's pediatric dental coverage, told NPR. "They're not cooperative in the dental chair."
Furthermore, some states will extend Medicaid coverage to more families, but parents whose children are covered under Medicaid may encounter additional issues. For example, there may be a language or transportation barrier that keeps them from seeing a dentist, and many dental health professionals do not accept Medicaid.
The news source cited a 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office, which found that less than half of the dentists in 25 out of the 39 states surveyed had treated Medicaid patients in the past year.
"We have huge and well-documented access problems in this country, with 45 to 50 million people living in dental shortage areas," Shelly Gehshan, director of the Pew Children's Dental Campaign, told NPR.
However, Robert Faiella, president of the American Dental Association, told NPR that there are more than enough dentists to meet the need. He said research shows that 73 percent of dentists have the capacity to take on more patients.
Only time will tell what will happen when the ACA is implemented. For now, people should look into purchasing discount dental plans to help them afford the cost of care, since there are many dentists who accept these plans.
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