While the Affordable Care Act or the ACA has arguably changed the way millions of Americans access healthcare, it does not cover dental insurance for adults. In other words, only children get dental coverage under this act. This is bad news for adults facing financial difficulties because dental care in the US is extremely expensive, according to Ira Lamster, dean emeritus of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. In fact, according to a study published by Oral Health America, only two percent of senior citizens in America have any kind of dental insurance. Nevertheless, figures from the American Dental Association (ADA) show that 17.7 million adults may benefit from some sort of dental coverage under the ACA.
Impact on Dentists
The impact of the affordable care act on dental care varies from state to state. The aforementioned study carried out by Oral Health America revealed that 17 states in the US perform poorly on the dental care front. These states include Mississippi (the worst), Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Maine, Montana, Utah, California, and Washington. The problem is most of these states oppose the ACA or expansion of Medicaid under ACA. In fact, only 23 states and the District of Columbia are likely to expand Medicaid to offer coverage to adults as envisaged in the ACA. As a result, a large number or people living in these states do not have dental insurance, which translates to fewer dental visits. In fact, a report published by CNN states that only people who have health insurance are likely to visit a dentist regularly.
It is important to note that, while dental insurance is not mandatory in the state of Oregon, the state exchange can offer standalone dental plans. Although this may seem like a reasonable approach to dental healthcare, it becomes more confusing if a person opts to buy health insurance outside state exchanges. This is because such a policy must be certified by the state exchange and it must offer dental coverage. Beth Truett, President and CEO of Oral Health America, reckons that this state of affairs is a recipe for dental healthcare crisis. To be precise, Truett believes that people on the “low income” bracket as well as ethnic minorities will face serious oral health problems in the next 10 years or so because they cannot afford dental care.
In conclusion, although the ACA has arguably made it easier for Americans to access quality healthcare, it does not include dental coverage for adults. This means many adults and seniors with financial difficulties are still unable to access dental healthcare.