Lack of access to dental care still hurts California children; many low-income kids fail to receive any dental care
Orange, CA, USA – Tooth decay is the most common chronic illness among California children and is five times more widespread than asthma, according to the “2016 California Children’s Report Card” issued by the advocacy group Children Now.
The report states that 55 per cent of California’s low-income children are enrolled in the state’s Denti-Cal programme, a Medi-Cal affiliate, but fewer than half received dental care in 2015. Denti-Cal is a public insurance programme that provides services for low-income individuals and families who meet eligibility requirements.
Western Dental, the leading provider of Denti-Cal services in California, is working to change those statistics. Western Dental keeps its doors open to new and returning Denti-Cal patients at all 160 of its California offices. Western Dental providers served Denti-Cal patients in approximately 1 million visits in 2015.
Nevertheless, California’s reimbursement rates for Denti-Cal still rank 48 out of 50 states for Medicaid and are roughly one-third of the rates paid by private insurers. Inadequate reimbursement has been criticised by oral health advocacy groups as a prime cause of limited access to dental care for low-income children throughout California.
Research by health advocates indicates that the dental problems experienced by many low-income California children are largely preventable.
“Western Dental has a long-standing commitment to patients of all economic means throughout California,” said Dr. Ronald Inge, DDS, Chief Dental Officer at Western Dental. “Western Dental has been treating Denti-Cal patients for nearly 50 years. It’s very important to us that children receive the preventive services they need and get timely quality dental care.”
Prior reports have estimated that a small percentage of California’s licensed dentists are active in the Denti-Cal programme, and of those, less than 1 in 5 sees 100 or more Denti-Cal patients per year. Western Dental dentists account for one-third of the dentists in the state who see more than 100 Denti-Cal patients per year.
Western Dental also accepts most private insurance plans and offers individual and group dental plans to uninsured patients.