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When people don't have access to affordable dental care, they may not visit the dentist when they begin to experience oral pain. Over time, as that pain gets worse, individuals may find themselves so desperate for treatment that they go to the emergency room to get help from a doctor. Unfortunately, there is only so much that doctors can do, since most of them are not trained to handle dental issues. This is one of the many reasons why it's important for people without insurance to look into discount dental plans to help them get the care they need at an affordable cost.
Recently, CaliforniaHealthline.org, a California HealthCare Foundation news source, reported that nearly 1 million Americans head to the ER each year because of dental pain. Once they are there, they are getting inferior care and paying a higher price than if they had just gone to the dentist when their pain began.
Higher cost, less care
According to the news source, the majority of people who end up in the ER for dental health issues receive their dental benefits through Medicaid. Many dentists refuse to treat patients with Medicaid, which is why people who get their dental care insurance this way should consider looking into discount dental plans instead, since more dental health professionals will accept these plans.
California Healthline explained that dentists only get about 20 percent of what they would from patients on private insurance when they treat Medicaid patients. Since dentists need to make money as well as help others, this is a problem.
The news source spoke to David Perrott, senior vice present and chief medical officer of the California Hospital Association, who explained more about this problem, particularly in California.
"Low-income patients show up at emergency departments for dental care because they can't find access anywhere else," Perrott told California Healthline. "Dentists aren't going to see Medi-Cal patients because the reimbursements are so terrible."
California Healthline cited a report from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which showed that from 2006 to 2009, there was a 16 percent increase in the number of U.S. residents who went to the ER for treatment. In 2009 alone, there were more than 930,000 ER visits and 13,000 hospital in-patient stays associated with dental health.
The news source stressed that oral health is connected to overall well-being, so if people are waiting to get their dental needs met until the pain is so bad that they need to go to the ER, chances are the problem may have spread to the rest of the body as well.
What can be done?
There are many potential solutions to this problem. For example, people need to be stringent about brushing and flossing to help reduce their chances of experiencing a serious dental issue. Also, individuals without dental insurance should look into discount dental plans to help them afford the care they need.
The American Association of Retired Persons recommends that people without coverage purchase one of these plans, which can offer them access to a wide network of dentists for a fee as low as $10 a month. The AARP explains that unlike private dental insurance, individuals can buy a discount plan even if they have a preexisting condition, and can find one that will be able to cover the cost of the dental care they need.
An estimated 100 million Americans do not have access to dental care, which is why it's so important for these individuals to understand all of the options they have when it comes to gaining access to affordable dental care.
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