Americans are deciding against visits to the dentist in record numbers, and many cite the cost of the visit for the reason.
When the Federal Reserve states there is a problem with dental health in America, you tend to listen.
And that’s what the Federal Reserve says is going on its Report on the Well-Being of U.S. Households, issued in May of 2015 and covering responses gathered in 2014.
The report is 108 pages long, but the graphic that tells the dental crisis story is on Page 19, when the survey asks “During the past 12 months, was there a time when you needed any of the following (health care treatments) but didn’t get it because you couldn’t afford it?”
The chart shows the 6 percent that needed mental health care but didn’t get it due to cost, or the 11 percent that needed to see a specialist but didn’t or the 13 percent that needed prescription medication and didn’t get it. But at the top of the chart is the 25 percent that needed dental care but didn’t get it due to cost.
That included 30 percent of respondents who had insurance and an annual income of between $40,000 and $100,000.
Overall, 31 percent of respondents went without some form of health care because they could not afford it.
In 2012, it was estimated 130 million Americans did not have dental insurance. While the Affordable Care Act is designed to extend coverage for dental needs to more children, many dental visits are skipped because families with plans are unable to handle high out-of-pocket costs that come with the ACA.
In the year 2000, before the most recent recession changed the economic landscape, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report on Oral Health in America, and said that American K-12 school children missed more than 51 million hours of school due to non-routine dental visits. For American adults that year, the amount of time was 164 million hours of work.
In 2009, the Surgeon General issued an update saying that more than 500,000 California school children in between the ages of 5 and 17 missed at least one day of school due to an oral health non-routine issue. That was just in California.
The recent news from the Federal Reserve about dental insurance hindering dental care came at the same time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing the high rate of dental cavities among U.S. adults. It said that while 91 percent of all Americans over 20 have had cavities in their lives, 27 percent of adults over 20 currently have untreated cavities.
“Despite all the advances in our ability to prevent, detect and treat dental disease, too many Americans, for a variety of reasons, are not enjoying the best possible oral health,’’ said ADA President Dr. Maxine Feinberg in a statement.
The rate of untreated dental disease is highest among African-Americans (42 percent of the entire segment) and Hispanics (36 percent).
Do you know why the number of untreated cavities is so high in America? According to the American Dental Association, it’s because people don’t go to the dentist when they should.
That’s what you call full circle.
According to the ADA Health Policy Institute, dental care utilization (that means routine dental care visits) was at its lowest level among working age adults since the rate began being tracked in 1996. Adults who do not plan a visit to the dentist over the next 12 months most frequently said the cost was the reason.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.