Cost Remains Barrier to Dental Care Access
As the connection between oral and overall health becomes more clear, patients are increasingly motivated to achieve and maintain good oral health.
As the connection between oral and overall health becomes more clear, patients are increasingly motivated to achieve and maintain good oral health. Unfortunately, barriers to care persist, as a recent survey reveals 75% of Americans have experienced challenges accessing dental care.
A survey commissioned by DentaQuest, a Boston-based oral health care company, asked 2,300 Americans—including dentists, physicians, patients, employee benefits administrators, and Medicaid administrators—about the problems surrounding the United States oral health care system. The report, “Reversible Decay: Oral Health Is a Public Health Problem We Can Solve,” notes that more than half of patients (51%) are concerned about their oral health, making it the top concern over cardiovascular, eye, digestive, mental, and skin health. But accessing oral health care is difficult; among the survey respondents, 52% cited cost and 31% listed lack of insurance as the main roadblocks to receiving dental treatment.
Of those polled, 70% said oral health care is “expensive.” Aside from the cost barrier, 32% characterized dental care as “scary;” 28% described it as “confusing;” 27% said it is “inconvenient;’” and 9% of respondents confessed they are uncertain about how often preventive oral health visits are needed.
Despite the clear connection between oral health, certain diseases, and quality of life, America’s health care system is at a crossroads. Patients and health care professionals believe the US oral health care system is failing Americans, and do not expect any positive changes over the next 5 years. The report offers five solutions to address these challenges: prevention, medical-dental integration, expanded access, comprehensive adult benefits, and value-based care.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. February 2020;18(2):9.