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The U.S. pays 17% of its Gross Domestic Product on healthcare.  Germany and France pay about 10%.  In the U.S. about half of the total population does not have adequate health coverage, when you include dental coverage as a necessary coverage.  In France and Germany every person has 100% health and dental coverage.

Why didn't the Democrats forward an inclusive dental plan with their health-care option?  Wouldn't that have made it incredibly more popular? Is this too hard to do?  The savings associated with a dental plan included with a public option plan would have easily paid for the public overall plan in missed emergency room visits for dental-related problems and preventative medicine advantages.

You can help bring about vibrant change in our nation's health care by assisting the Dental Health Foundation. (details after the jump)

The U.S. population is thronging to mexico and thailand to get their necessary dental care. The prohibitive costs of dental plans that have pathetically low dental coverage is keeping people from the necessary care that is so vital for overall body health.

Poor dental care and gum disease is now directly linked as a contributing factor in overall body health (infection prevention, immune system) heart disease (arterial plaque), Stroke, Diabetes and even (especially!) pre-natal care for developing fetuses (link)

My own personal (pretty simple) example of U.S. dental care

After many years of being non-insured, I finally paid for a dental plan that I could afford and went into the dentist.  I looked pretty good except for a cracked tooth from a very very old filling that had swelled (old fillings need to be replaced about every 25 years or they will expand and crack teeth!)

The expected payment for a cap on this cracked tooth was $2,200.00, while my insurance that I had already paid over $500.00 into would only cover $249.00 of the cost. (based on my geographic region).  This was a prohibitive cost and I am still in need of care.  Eventually this tooth will rot and flood my bloodstream with bacteria that could literally kill me.

This is why people don't have insurance.  Just like the regular health care crisis, costs are prohibitive and the insurance companies are not putting out good plans that work within the current system.

Another potential failure for the Democratic Party?

More importantly though, why hasn't this been even mentioned? Put on the table whatsoever???  Nobody would be able to come up with a valid argument against it.  It isn't like there could be some beauracratic "death panel" for grandma's dentures. . .It seems that having included this into the healthcare overhaul bill would have made it so much better, perhaps it is another indication that our representatives did not acutally want to put in a good bill?  I don't know.

Putting a dental public option plan into the bill would have covered the costs of the entire health care overhaul bill and made it revenue positive.

In California, these effects are demonstrated by the 80,000 visits a year for preventable dental conditions. Left untreated, cavities and other routine dental problems can develop into serious infections that require immediate treatment, exacting a high cost both on patients and the health care system.

Please visit the Dental Health Foundation to learn more and help put a Public Dental Option on the table.

Originally posted to innereye on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:14 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    "There is a Soul Force in the Universe which, if you permit it, will flow through you and produce miraculous results." Mahatma Gandhi

    by innereye on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:14:54 AM PDT

    •  Also Pancreatic Cancer Said My Dentist nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kitsap River

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:30:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well done - thank you for bringing this up (4+ / 0-)

      God forbid we actually invest in health to reduce overall health care costs!

      That would be, um, proactive AND intelligent!  Can't have that now can we?

    •  Thanks for posting this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kitsap River

      I happen to have a dental plan added to my health insurance.  It is better than most according to the staff at the dental office.  I still have out of pocket expenses that add up fast.  I have to look at my bank account before I get work done.

      Others without dental insurance have to go without.  It is not only pain and suffering, it can also cause lack of self image, and those affected can suffer declining health.

      This not only applies to dental but all health care.  People can't afford regular checkups or to see the doctor when they become ill.  A problem that could be stemmed in the early stages becomes a full-blown health crises.

      It is unfortunate that all the shouting has drowned out real discussions about real problems.  People don't realize that preventative medicine can save us money and can lead to a better quality of life.  

  •  I was wondering about whether any of the proposed (9+ / 0-)

    bills winding their way through congress right now had any kind of coverage for dental. Agreed that it's important as evidenced by the tragic story of Deamonte Driver that teacherken among others have written:

    Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.

    A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.

    If his mother had been insured.

    If his family had not lost its Medicaid.

    If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.

    If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.

    By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.

    Remember Descent Highest Form of Patriotic - Moranic teabagger sign

    by blueyescryinintherain on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:22:57 AM PDT

  •  I don't think most of the insurance plans (6+ / 0-)

    currently active in the US cover dental.  My husband is from MA, I'm from NY.  We lived in MI for a little while about 20 years ago, and we were STUNNED that workers had dental covered!
    Our current expensive BCBS policy here in IL does not cover dental.  That's NO help with braces and wisdom teeth extraction for teens, and no care as you describe for us 50-something parents.
    While I agree with your idea, I just think that most Americans are conditioned to expect CRAP and less than civilized treatment on any part of the health care front, and nobody thought it would be worth the fight.  As it is, for profit insurance is screaming.  You want to beef up the public option with something that not many other people are getting, too?
    BTW, we could not find a dental insurance plan that was worthwhile, so we just went along and paid for all out of pocket.  Same boat as you.

    It took me three hours to figure out FU meant Felix Unger! -O. Madison In honor of kos' Saturday hate mail-a-palooza

    by Meggie on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:26:17 AM PDT

    •  Our OH State Workers' and Retirees' Health Does (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      or can include dental so-called insurance.

      It's still smart not to get any older than 40 though, or else skip over to 70, because those intervening years aren't affordable even with coverage.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:31:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Had an interesting conversation with a retired (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kitsap River, lgmcp, Cassandra Waites

        teacher on the teabagger's side of a townhall a couple weeks ago.
        He's a retired public school teacher, and he started out insisting that he paid for ALL his pension.  Finally had to admit that property owners paid for half of his pension, and will be on the hook for all as long as he lives.
        Or - I pointed out that his teabagger friends thought it was wrong for GM to have to honor contracts for its retirees, the conservative politicians his teabagger friends support think it's OK for corporations to weasel out of pension contracts with their employees. So, didn't he think it would be fair for taxpayers to someday weasel out on his pension contract the same way?  

        He also thought his retirement deal w/health insurance and care (he's not nearly 65 yet) was wonderful and guaranteed.  I asked him why he thought that?  Why should people who have none continue to pay his?  The area needs teachers, and he could certainly still work.  Didn't appear to be anything wrong with him.

        Ended by telling him I thought good teachers work hard and deserve to get benefits.  But he shouldn't fight other people having something as meager as a public option while he expected them to pay his way, too.

        He didn't straightup agree with anything, and I understand human nature enough to get that.  But he DID leave the teabaggers soon after and go home.  Hopefully to think a bit.  

        It took me three hours to figure out FU meant Felix Unger! -O. Madison In honor of kos' Saturday hate mail-a-palooza

        by Meggie on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:43:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  wouldn't a cap on out-of-pocket (0+ / 0-)

    expenses cover most of these problems? provided the cap was realistic.

    dental plans are relatively inexpensive.. but i do agree, they should be part of the public option, if we even get it (how can we have comprehensive reform without comprehensive coverage?).

  •  My crappy dental insurance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's an add-on to my BC/BS policy. What I get for my premiums is two cleanings a year and one crown. My out-of-pockets are averaging about $2000 a year. From what I can tell, my situation is fairly typical. Dental care is something you have to budget for.

    There seems to be a very wide range of pricing for services, because while I spend about $1200 for a crown, I've seen some people report $500 as their rate, so there's some variability in these things. Given the expense of dental care, it's hard to see it factoring into HCR at the present time.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:31:41 AM PDT

  •  Unique Moment... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kitsap River, lgmcp, mieprowan

    Traditionally, the ADA has been against any reform. Based on my experience, most of the push back from dentists is based on the current experience with Medicare.  When a patient presents with Title XIX insurance, a doctor knows he is "donating" care.  The reimbursement rate is normally below actual cost.  I don't think it's the dentists not wanting to provide care; it's just that if they were forced to see only Title XIX patients, the practice would fail pretty quickly.

    Want proof?  Call around to local dentists and ask if they accept Title XIX.  I believe that many dentists fear that any government system will be based on these reimbursement rates, which is why they fear any reform.

    Here's why I think this is a unique moment: Delta Dental, one of the largest dental insurance group in the US, is starting to act like Title XIX.  With expenses going up, Delta is setting lower and lower UCRs.  UCRs are the amount of a fee that the insurance company believes is "fair" in that geographic area.  Insurance companies base their reimbursement on the UCR rate.

    Here's where Delta starts to screw doctors.  If you don't accept Delta's UCR rates, you are no longer a preferred provider.  That hurts the patient (more expensive for them) and the doctor (reimbursement checks are sent to the patient, not to the doctor).  When you accept Delta's UCRs, you have to "write off" any amount of your fee that is higher than the UCR--it is not charged to the patient and is not recovered from the insurance company.

    These UCR write-offs have grown and grown in the last few years.  I don't have the numbers on hand, but the percentage of write-offs has gone up significantly over the last 5 years.  More and more of a dentist's fee is being eaten up in UCR write-offs.

    The ADA is getting frustrated by these UCR rates.  I think now might be a unique opportunity to convince dentists that if things keep going the way they are with Delta, it would be worse than any reimbursement scheme a public option would come up with.

    •  I'm sure Delta's manipulation of UCR's (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kitsap River, DemHikers, mieprowan

      is only going to get worse.  And Medicaid reimbursement rates are not going to get any better for providers either -- if anything, the reverse.  Would a new public option, either dental or medical, offer them anything better?  I see little reason to think so.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 12:01:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The privileged get crowns (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    usually at about $500 copay on a standard dental insurance program, and limited to maybe two per year.  The poor get the tooth pulled -- if they're lucky, I guess.

    The privileged get implants, or whatever it takes to keep every possible tooth in their mouth for as long as humanly possible.  The poor get advised to pull ALL their teeth in one fell swoop and get a full denture. So they can use lots of adhesive, have constant fit problems, and talk like they have a mouthful of mush -- makes a great impression at job interviews.

    Sure it'd make a lot of sense to fix this when we "fix" disparities in access to health care.  Except it makes the project significantly larger and more ambitious, which we seem already unable to cope with.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 11:58:15 AM PDT

  •  dental and mental too (4+ / 0-)

    Memorable comment from another Kossack a few weeks or so back - "who's going to want to hire somebody with bad teeth who cries all the time?"

    "So if you want a symbolic gesture; don't burn the flag. Wash it." - Norman Thomas

    by mieprowan on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 12:03:55 PM PDT

  •  To drive down prices (0+ / 0-)

    increase supply;

    more seats in dental schools, more dental schools.

    Break the health care mafia.

    The Bill of Rights is universal.

    by Paul Goodman on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 12:08:07 PM PDT

  •  Dental? Mental?? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kitsap River, innereye

    You gotta be kidding.

    If ObamaCare is socialistic, then dental and mental health coverage is positively communistic.  And that is what's so sad.  Basic coverage, taken for granted in other developed countries is not even under consideration.

    In terms of health care, the U.S. is turning into a country of lords and serfs.  And if the Democrats will not fight for full health care coverage for all, then it's pretty bad.

  •  Dental care (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kitsap River, Alexandra Lynch

    in this country is a big class divider.  I'm very disappointed that it doesn't seem to be an issue in the health care leg.  Cost of dental work is simply out of sight for lower and modest income people.  $1200-2000 per tooth?  Not do-able.

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