How The Supreme Court’s Ruling Affects Dental Care

Share:

June 28, 2012

Long overlooked as a secondary aspect of health care, dental care is an important element of overall health, experts say. But as we reported this week in Dollars and Dentists — which you can watch here — the high cost of care keeps more than 100 million Americans out of the dentist’s chair — and in danger of developing serious health problems as a result.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires insurers to offer dental care for children, but not adults, leaving “improvement in access to oral health for adults a continuing challenge,” the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured wrote in a policy brief this month.

The law provides additional funding to expand access for people who live in so-called “dental deserts,” or places where people don’t have access to dental care providers. A little more than 15 percent of the U.S. population currently lives in an area with a shortage of dental care providers, according to Kaiser.

The ACA also funds [PDF] national public-education programs on preventing oral diseases, and a program to better educate community-based providers of care, including the Indian Health Service.

And the law set aside for multimillion-dollar grants to establish training programs for alternative dental health care providers — such as dental hygienists, dental therapists — to boost services in rural areas and other places where people lack access to care. It also allows for grants and loan repayment programs for dental students and other health professionals.

The American Dental Association has been supportive of the expansion of dental care under the law. But it strongly opposes dental therapists and has lobbied hard to defeat such provisions in state law.


Sarah Childress

Sarah Childress, Senior Editor & Director of Local Projects, FRONTLINE

Twitter:

@sarah_childress

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

blog comments powered by Disqus

More Stories

Taking Office in a Time of Crisis: 16 Documentaries on Key Issues Biden Inherits
These 16 FRONTLINE documentaries offer context on some of the biggest challenges the new administration faces.
January 19, 2021
Nine Former Michigan Officials, Including Ex-Gov. Rick Snyder, Charged in Flint Water Crisis
More than six years after residents learned that they had been exposed to lead-contaminated drinking water and a deadly disease outbreak, top leadership in the state and city at the time have been indicted on criminal charges in connection with their role in the crisis.
January 14, 2021
Michigan Ex-Gov. Rick Snyder Charged in Flint Water Crisis
Michigan’s former governor Rick Snyder was charged Wednesday with willful neglect of duty for his role in the deadly Flint water crisis that poisoned residents and is still overshadowing the city.
January 13, 2021
Judge Rules U.S. Indian Health Service Must Disclose Sex-Abuse Report
The report was commissioned after a WSJ-FRONTLINE investigation revealed the agency’s failure to protect patients from a pedophile doctor.
January 13, 2021