Is Dental Insurance Provided Under the Proposed Health Insurance Exchange?

It is not unusual to wonder whether or not any sort of dental care will be included in any of the plans currently circulating for healthcare reform in the United States. Most Americans take dental health for granted and more than twice the number of “uninsured” medically lack dental insurance.

Nearly every person will likely experience some type of dental disease during their lifetime and many of these diseases will not heal without professional assistance. These conditions deteriorate over time and can lead to serious health problems that extend beyond the mouth to possibly the heart or the brain. The Journal of Dental Education reported recently that oral illnesses are responsible for more than 3.5 days of bed disability and 1 million days of school lost.

So with the critical importance of preventative and active dental care being apart of the healthy American’s lifestyle, could we expect to see provisions for it in any of the plans winding through congress looking for votes and eventually a Presidential signature?

Don’t Count on It

Though there currently are cries from professionals and citizens all across the country to not forget dental care when talking about healthcare reform, the embattled state of healthcare reform at the moment leaves little wiggle room for something like dental care and neither of the two plans that have been drafted and introduced to congress make much mention of it beyond emergency services.

The reasons for the lack of a dental care package in the healthcare reform plans are varied but generally run along the lines of:

  1. It’s too expensive: This only relates to the expense of a dental care plan in relation to the current debate that is raging on the costs of national healthcare reform. In order to get something done, anything done, those in Congress and the President who are interested in seeing reform pass are keeping it as sleek and inexpensive as possible right now.

  2. It’s not that expensive: On the other side of the argument, ironically, is that dental care – especially preventative care – is not incredibly expensive to manage without insurance. Certainly not when compared to medical expenses. Thus the need for a comprehensive dental care plan on the national stage seems unnecessary.

  3. It’s not life-threatening: Usually dental care is not a life-threatening issue, though, admittedly, it can be a very painful one. With few exceptions, regular care of ones teeth and the occasional visit to the dentist can be fairly inexpensive and find and prevent expensive, life-threatening oral care issues before they become serious.

Perhaps, for the Children

If any kind of dental care does make it into the current talks, then you can expect the plan will start with coverage for children – those under eighteen years old, and perhaps emergency work only for those who eighteen and older. Many state insurance plans of Medicaid and Medicare provide routine and preventative care for minors while allowing adults to only get their teeth extracted if need be to prevent serious problems. This would be the likely form that any dental proposal will initially take in order to pass the congressional and public opinion hurdles.

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