The Medicaid System: 15+ Million Kids Not Getting Dental Care
Medicaid is a system, which should help people with low levels of income, have proper access to dental care. Not everybody can afford private dental insurance, or paying out of pocket several hundreds of dollars for fillings and extractions.
Dental problems are sometimes inevitable, and some oral health issues come without warning. When the pain is stabbing right to the brains of the patient…he/she needs proper treatment immediately, and not after being put on hold for several weeks or months.
According to data released by the Pew Center on the States, there are currently around 16 million low income children with Medicaid who did not receive dental care in 2009. Dentists working in the emergency rooms say the little patients arrive in the ER with blackened teeth from decay or infections, which require immediate extraction.
The problematic of children’s dental health has been debated so many times. However, it wasn’t until the case of Deamonte Driver happened that the Congress actually decided to hold a debate regarding the dental health issue of children.
Deamonte was a 12 years old little boy who died because of an untreated tooth infection, which spread to his brain. The entire infection could have been avoided, if the boy had proper access to dental treatment in time. Unfortunately, despite all her efforts, the mother could simply not find a dentist who would treat the little boy on Medicaid. She could not afford to pay for the dental services herself.
The type of infection that the boy suffered from is one that is usually covered by Medicaid. Even so, many dentists refuse to offer treatments, by arguing that the reimbursement rates are way too low, so it is basically not profitable for them to treat many patients on Medicaid. Is it the system, or is it the professional that is the culprit in the equation?
A study released a few months ago (late 2011) revealed that even though there are huge efforts put into making the situation of the patient-provider in the Medicaid system much better, patients coming from low income families had very limited access to proper dental care. Those who had access to these dental services through Medicaid, were those who actually paid an out of pocket amount for the treatments they received.
The biggest problem seems to be in the case of children, because they are the ones who suffer from the ignorance of the grown ups. Dentists don’t want to accept working through Medicaid because of the low reimbursement rates, and Medicaid doesn’t make any huge efforts to motivate dentists to take on more patients. This is a true vicious circle, where sadly the little ones and the poorest ones are paying the highest price.
Categories: Free Dental Work
Topics: Tags: brain, brains, child, children, Children’s Dental Health, culprit, decay, dental, dental care, dental health