Although many Americans are hopeful that the Affordable Care Act (or ‘Obamacare’) may help with dental care, there are no signs that the ACA will provide much help.
In some states, dental care for children is being incorporated into supplemental Medicare coverage for low income families. For others, individual health care plans offer dental coverage as a separate option. Added dental coverage, in many cases, has a conservative maximum coverage, such as $2,000 a year. This may cover fees for two 6-month check-ups and cleanings and one or two crowns. For those who need extensive work, hoping that dental insurance or Medicare supplements will provide the dentistry needed to restore good oral health may not occur.
Some states have increased Medicare funding for low-income families who have purchased insurance through the Affordable Care Act. However, the number of physicians, dentists, and dental specialists who accept Medicare is limited. Caregivers often avoid being a Medicare provider because of the low reimbursement level and extended time it takes for reimbursement. And it’s not just Medicare. HMO and PPO dental coverages can also leave dentists in challenging positions. While reimbursement may be slightly better than Medicare, lag time between insurance filing and reimbursement is traditionally slow.
Don’t assume that ample dental coverages will emerge any time soon through the ACA. While it may be a challenge to pay for quality dental care, it is an investment in your appearance, self-confidence and an aid in lowering overall health risks. Research has linked the bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies and more.
Americans spend thousands on automobiles, cruises and wide screen televisions with access to hundreds of sports and entertainment channels while dental health ranks low on their budget’s priority list, regardless of insurance coverage. Until dentistry is seen as a necessity rather than an elective option, insurance coverage or supplemental plans will have little impact in providing a confident smile that lasts your lifetime. That’s up to you.