KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Lack of Dental Insurance A Problem For Millions

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Lack of dental insurance is an "endemic problem" that affects millions of people, largely those without jobs, health coverage or solid incomes. "It began with a toothache. Tori Pence, 23, could feel the hole that had suddenly developed on her tooth, and she couldn't stand either hot or cold food. The bespectacled girl with electric-blue hair had worked a string of odd jobs and hadn't seen a dentist for at least five years. When she finally got in to see one, she needed a root canal. And fillings for 15 cavities." Health reform for dental coverage offers a mixed bag. "The law increases coverage for children, and will eventually cover more adults under Medicaid, the joint state-federal health plan for the poor. But adult dental services are often hard to find: Less than one-third of dentists in Pennsylvania and New Jersey participate in Medicaid" (Minters, 7/26).

The Daytona Beach News-Journal: "Even though getting dental care can mean life or death - [it is even] related to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and low birth weight - dental insurance remains something of a luxury item for millions of Americans. Compared to the 15 percent of Americans who lack health insurance, the U.S. Surgeon General's Office estimates 108 million - or about 35 percent of the population - lack dental insurance coverage. The National Association of Dental Plans estimates a bigger problem, with about 47 percent having no dental insurance" (Geggis, 7/26).

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