Health Care Reform Leaves Adults without Dental Coverage
Delta Dental Donates $88 million to Improve Oral Health
OAK BROOK, Ill. (Dec. 18, 2012) - While health care reform promises to provide children access to dental coverage, the same cannot be said for millions of adults. Regardless of where one falls on this political debate, the sobering fact remains that for every adult without health insurance, an estimated three lack dental coverage.
According to a June, 2012 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2010, 22 percent of low-income adults had gone five years or more without visiting a dentist. Additionally, more than 44 million Americans live in federally-designated Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas, meaning it is difficult for many to access a dentist whether or not they have insurance.
Thankfully, organizations throughout the country are working to meet these oral health needs. A young Oregon girl was suffering from an abscessed tooth that needed immediate care. But with only $100 to her name, the mom feared that care was outside her child's reach. Then a school nurse connected the mom with the Tooth Taxi, a state-of-the-art dentist office on wheels sponsored by Oregon Dental Service (a Delta Dental company), OEA Choice Trust and the Dental Foundation of Oregon. The Taxi's staff screened the little girl, prescribed her an antibiotic and treated her two days later—a gesture that brought her mom to tears.
Stories like these were found all across the country as part of an annual review revealing that Delta Dental companies invested more than $88 million in oral health charitable efforts last year. These donations supported prevention, treatment, oral health education, dental education, research and more. As a result of this philanthropy, the lives of millions of adults and children were improved through programs like Missions of Mercy (two-day, free dental clinics that have treated more than 100,000 people since 2000), community water fluoridation, mobile dental units that visited schools, scholarships for dental students, school loan repayment programs that attract dentists to underserved areas, school sealant programs, Hispanic outreach programs, oral health research and many more. All told, Delta Dental companies nationwide provided financial support for more than 500 organizations and charities.
"Delta Dental's mission is to improve the oral health of all Americans," said Kim Volk, president and CEO of Delta Dental Plans Association. "One way we do this is by providing affordable dental benefits to our 60 million members. Still, we know coverage does not always mean access, and far too many people have no coverage at all. That's why we are committed to supporting safety net programs throughout the country," said Volk. "In addition to the programs we support annually, our member companies helped launch 170 new programs in 2011, including 63 programs specifically serving children."
For more information about the positive impact that Delta Dental is having on the oral health of your community, please visit www.deltadental.com/communitybenefit.
About Delta Dental Plans Association
The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association (www.deltadental.com), based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. It provides dental benefits programs to more than 60 million Americans in more than 95,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more oral health news and information from Dr. Kohn and DDPA, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter.