Even for the insured, barriers still prevent access to dental care

Oral health is an important part of good general health. Untreated tooth decay in children can lead to serious health consequences that include lifelong tooth and gum problems, hospitalizations and emergency room visits, delayed physical development, and loss of school days. But there are other barriers to good dental health that can make it even more difficult for some children, such as access to care and high out-of-pocket costs.

In a 2009 NPCH Report, about 1 in 10 parents reported having difficulty in finding a dentist who accepted their child’s insurance. Two-thirds of parents whose children did not have dental insurance reported “costs too much” as a big problem in getting dental care for their children. For 88% of children with no dental insurance, the out-of-pocket cost for a routine dental check-up was reported as more than $25.

Issues with cost of and access to care remain a major issue for kids today. In a recent article from New America Media, some California moms expressed their concern that although their children are becoming eligible for the state’s Medi-Cal program, they struggle to find providers who accept it. Almost 20% of California’s counties have no providers that accept Denti-Cal, mostly due to the low reimbursement rate per patient—35% of the national average.

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