Expanding health insurance coverage and the implications for dentistry.
Numerous proposals have been suggested for expanding health insurance coverage to the over 30 million Americans without health insurance. These proposals range from establishing a program of national health insurance modeled after the Canadian system to establishing statewide risk pools. Many of these proposals could have an impact on financial access to dental care for the approximately 120 million people without dental insurance. Dental insurance coverage has been shown to increase access to dental services and improve oral health status. Oral health professionals could facilitate discussions concerning health insurance expansion by informing policymakers about important preventive benefits to be gained by improving access to dental services. Dental public health professionals can serve as a bridge between organized dentistry and health policymakers by providing information to help formulate the priorities and characteristics of a dental health insurance program. This visibility and influence in the health policy arena would be beneficial to dentistry and could ultimately result in greater access to dental services and improved oral health for the uninsured.