Dental coverage in the US continues to lag behind
SANTA MONICA, Calif., USA: A survey of 1,000 adults has found that nearly half of the U.S. population (148 million) lacks dental insurance. Of the participants, 56 percent sought no preventative care and 18 percent have not been to the dentist in the last ten years. Cost was one of the top reasons preventing them from consulting a dental health care professional.
Based on the participants' responses, the investigators estimate that nearly 70 percent of uninsured Americans have at least one major unmet dental care need. Almost 25 percent of uninsured participants said that they had missing teeth and 17 percent had bleeding gums. In comparison, the majority of insured Americans (57 percent) currently have an unmet dental need, the researchers stated.
Despite these needs, about 54 percent of uninsured Americans have not seen a dentist in the last year and 12 percent expect not to go in the next five years, the investigators said.
In addition, the survey highlighted that high cost and poor price transparency are the top two barriers to visiting the dentist in 2013 for people without insurance in particular. Almost 70 percent of uninsured and over 50 percent of insured participants stated that they had delayed dental care in the past owing to cost.
Moreover, the survey found that 41 percent of parents without insurance had delayed dental care for their children because they could not afford the cost of a specific treatment. Among those with insurance, 22 percent had delayed care for their children owing to cost.
"The survey reveals that, despite an improving economy, vast numbers of Americans are falling short of needed levels of dental care," the investigators concluded.
The survey, titled "2013 Annual Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility ," was conducted in May 2013 by Empirica Research, an international research firm, on behalf of Brighter.com, a California-based startup that offers discount dental care by giving patients access to pre-negotiated rates at certified dentists.