An Ounce of Dental Prevention Is Far Cheaper

Will Legislature Push Restoration of Dental Care

by Brian Leubitz

Friend of Calitics David Dayen takes a look at the California budget process and finds one cut that should be restored:

Perhaps the most critical is restoring dental care for the 3 million adults currently on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid system.

Like many other states during the Great Recession, California eliminated its adult dental program for Medicaid in 2009, without the legislature ever voting to cut it (the Medi-Cal reductions came as part of a “trigger,” which got pulled when revenues failed to materialize). In a given year, over 300,000 poor Medi-Cal recipients would have used dental services. Instead, they either go without, letting serious dental problems fester, or they use the emergency room as their dentist, ringing up massive costs in uncompensated care. “People show up to the ER for root canals, abscesses, everything,” explained Anthony Wright, the executive director of Health Access California. “It’s far more expensive to the state to have a patient spend 2-3 days in the hospital than to pay for their checkup.” (David Dayen / Salon)

Sen. Steinberg has been pushing the restoration of dental cuts since at least January when we got some early positive revenue estimates. But dental care is one of those things that gets lost early. Legislators don’t see it as a life or death issue, though they probably should. Or maybe they should watch Frontline on the simple expenditures that can save lives and reduce costs.  

2 thoughts on “An Ounce of Dental Prevention Is Far Cheaper”

  1. It seems the reason for no adult dental for those getting SSI/SSP is that TEETH to some are Cosmetic, it would have been cheaper to do a root canal and to save a tooth than to replace said upper molar with a crown and post, since without it, one side of the mouth is unusable to chew food with. But then one has to make a choice to eat in pain or to not eat with no pain, especially if one can’t pay for dental surgery if one has no credit score, so under current law one can only get a tooth pulled, not even dentures or teeth cleaning are paid for. Me I had 3 cavities as a child, two molars in My lower jaw were mostly replaced by two wisdom teeth, the 3rd tooth was in the upper jaw, needless to say there are no wisdom teeth in My upper jaw at all, all 3 were drilled and filled when I was younger…

    TEETH are NOT Cosmetic…

    Not everyone can afford to pay out of pocket to have good teeth to eat with, but some people are unpleasant SOBs who don’t know what their talking about at all…

  2. We can’t afford to restore and increase too many social welfare programs

    But, dental care seems like one that should be restored

    It’s a decent and reasonable expenditure

    Health is importatn

Comments are closed.