Why Americans Skip Dental Care They Need?

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Why Americans skip dental care they need is indeed a question that some have pondered long enough to conduct a study and some consequent data on. According to the data available from the ADA Health Policy Institute suggests that nearly 1 out of 5 working-age adults across the United States don’t get the dental care that they need. This results in almost 50 million Americans that forgo or delay their dental care, and it’s often due to financial reasons.

This is a rather high number of people who put off the care they need, even though the percentage of Americans who have dental insurance has gone up lately. ADA Health Policy Institute Vice President Marko Vujicic says that this trend is going to be the norm in dentistry for a while.

The data seems to demonstrate this trend. On the positive side, low-income adults are visiting dentists more often in states that have comprehensive dental benefits more available thanks to Medicaid and expanded eligibility in the larger program. However, the total broader utilization among all adults has still been on a downward trend.

The ADA HPI study used data collected with National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2013 until 2016. These surveys encompassed 10,000 participants, and they were intended to accumulate nationally representative data regarding the health status of kids and adults across the United States.

In those survey years, 1 in 5 working-age adults reported needing dental care but have not gotten it in the previous 12 months. The percentages were higher among adults than they were for seniors, who were at 11 percent, and children, who were at 4 percent.

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An Obvious Conclusion from the Empirical Evidence

The affordability or the perception of affordability were primary barriers to adults getting dental care. The research also convincingly showed that circumstances are very different for kids, which is perhaps an important source of lessons to learn.

Recent changes in public policies had greatly expanded the available dental coverage for kids, whether it be through Medicaid’s mandated coverage, the Patient Protection, and Affordable Care Act, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. These regulations were structured in ways such that offering comprehensive dental benefits could be done with little to no cost-sharing.

The policy-based approach has resulted in substantial improvements for children having access to dental care, and the resulting oral health outcomes have been very positive, especially for minority children and low-income households. As for seniors and adults, these trends show how vastly different state and federal policies are for making sure older groups get sufficient dental care.

A Few Reasons Why Americans
Skip Dental Care

Respondents who were surveyed said that the most common reason for not getting the dental care they needed was typically financial reasons. These included an inability to afford the involved costs, as well as insurance not covering particular procedures. Nonfinancial reasons listed for skipping on necessary care included being too busy or just being afraid, but these were cited far less often.

The three particular demographic groups most likely to claim to have financial barriers to appropriate dental care included low-income seniors, low-income working-age adults, and high-income working-age adults. These were also the same three groups that were likely to claim nonfinancial barriers to their care as well.

One big potential reason behind all of this is that over a quarter of all working adults have no dental benefits whatsoever. The typical adult spends nearly $310 out of their pocket on dental care, and that’s an amount that is cost-prohibitive for many people.

See also: An In-depth Look at Dental Medical Billing Services

More People Lack Dental Insurance Than They Do Medical Insurance

Whether it’s right or wrong, this has a huge impact on the perception of affordability. Even those that have dental insurance rate expenses and costs as their biggest barrier to dental care. The actual design of dental insurance has much to do with this.

It should be noted that the data from NHANES was collated from a fixed set of responses, and they didn’t have a handful of insurance-specific complications, like going past the annual maximum of an insurance policy or being unable to find a dentist that took that person’s insurance. Regardless, the data suggests that costs were a primary barrier to accessing needed dental care among working-age adults of both high- and low-income levels.

Financial reasons, like not being able to afford things, insurance not covering certain procedures, or just not wanting to spend the money, were all listed as top barriers for getting the dental care people needed. Respondents also listed nonfinancial reasons far less frequently, and they included things like being too busy, the dental office being too far away, or just being afraid of dentists and not liking them.

We hope this article helped you achieve a better understanding on why Americans Skip Dental care they need. If you’re looking to learn more about how to help your practice grow – don’t forget to download our FREE 43-page Report on Increasing Case Sizes and Collections.

Kevin Steineman is a Digital Marketer, Entrepreneur, and Producer. Find out more about Kevin @KSteineman on Instagram, Facebook and wherever your heart desires. Be sure to also check out our Dental News Site - The Daily Floss!

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