The gap in dental coverage is widening as states cut optional benefits for millions of low-income adults on Medicaid and fewer people are being covered under work plans.
A recent New York Times article notes that even in states where Medicaid members can still get regular dental care, there are fewer and fewer dentists accepting personal insurance.
Part of the reason for this is that dentists can get much higher payments from non-Medicaid customers, especially now that reimbursements have also been cut.
To top it off, there are shortages of dentists in many low-income and rural communities, according to a report by the Pew Center on the States. They estimated that preventable dental problems were the reason for more than 830,000 visits to the emergency room in 2009.
Here are four low-cost dental insurance alternatives to help you get the dental care you need:
- Discount Dental Plans: These plans offer savings from 10% to 60% on most dental care procedures. DentalPlans.com offers more than 30 of the leading Discount Dental Plans nationwide.
- Dental Schools: Local dental schools offer preventive and restorative dental care to the public by supervised students at discounted prices. Remember, taking care of your teeth before it turns into a problem is key.
- Free Clinics/Health Centers: Based on an individuals ability to pay for dental care, these community programs also offer discounted or free services. Check out FreeDentalWork.org for listings of free dental clinic events in your area.
- Pro-Bono Dentistry: If you cant afford dental work, ask your dentist if he or she does pro bono work for needy patients.
Have you suffered from Medicaid cuts in your state? Tell us what youve done to keep up with dental appointments in the comments below.