All around Florida, one can see the poorer strata of society including little children, single moms or busboys, struggling with advanced tooth decay, dental pain or other oral hygiene problems.
Proper dental care is a real luxury for the working poor of the state. They lack proper health insurance most of the time, and basically cannot afford to pay for expensive dental services out of their pocket.
The government insurance for the poor, Medicaid, provides too little coverage. It basically covers only for dental extractions, and for a once in a lifetime denture set. Indeed, the program offers more dentistry procedures for the children, but even so Florida is on the last place as a state, when it comes to offering dental services for children that come from low income families, who cannot afford to pay for their child’s medical needs.
Florida struggles with the problem of access of children to proper dental health care for well over 10 years now.
According to quite a recent study released by the Pew Center for the States, out of all the Medicaid children, only 23.5% have received proper dental care. It is important to compare it with the top rated state of Idaho, where 61% of the children enrolled with Medicaid received proper dental services.
What could be the core of the problem? Based on many opinions, it is so because dentists simply refuse to treat patients that are low income. Dental professionals say that the reimbursement rates offered by Medicaid are way too low (while these rates are being established by the state Legislature). For instance, the dentist will receive as little as $34 from Medicaid for a dental filling; on the other hand, a private dentist will charge for the same service even up to $180.
According to the chairman of the Department of Community Dentistry (University of Florida), Frank Catalanotto admits that these reimbursement rates offered by Medicaid are the lowest ones in the entire country. Therefore, one can see fewer and fewer dentists joining the Medicaid programs of course.