Americans support dental coverage in health care reforms

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Americans support dental coverage in health care reforms

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US President Barack Obama speaking at the annual convention of the American Medical Association last week in Chicago. (DTI/Photo Ted Grudzinski,AMA)
Daniel Zimmermann, DTI

By Daniel Zimmermann, DTI

Fri. 19 June 2009

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LEIPZIG, Germany/WASHINGTON, DC, USA: Over 60 per cent of Americans consider dental coverage part of an overall health care reform by the Obama legislation, a new public opinion survey has shown. The poll released at the launch of National Smile Month in June and commissioned by Oral Health America revealed that four in five adults agree that dental benefits are as important as general medical benefits in an overall health care benefit package.

Many poor and lower-middle class families in the US currently do not receive enough dental care, in part because dentists prefer patients who have private insurance or can pay in cash. The lack of dental care is also not restricted to the poor, recent data shows. Experts on oral health say that about 100 million Americans have no access to adequate care.

In a recent letter to US president Barrack Obama, the American Dental Association (ADA), which represents over 157,000 dentists in the US, recently urged the government to pay more attention to dental health care in the ongoing health-policy debate. “Acknowledging that the majority of Americans have access to excellent and relatively affordable dental care […], we are compelled to point out that too many low-income Americans still suffer needlessly from dental disease,” the letter states. “More must be done to ensure that all Americans have access to quality oral-health services.”

The ADA recommends increasing funding to the nationwide Medicaid health programme, rebuilding the public dental-health infrastructure and supporting community-based prevention measures, such as fluoridation or school-based education programmes.

Obama’s health care reform initiative aims to extend health coverage to 45 million uninsured people in the US, as well as to preserve consumer choice and lower rising health care costs, by cutting more than US$200 billion in reimbursements to hospitals over the next decade. He has also announced his support of the introduction of a public health insurance plan, a concept similar to the failed health care plan developed by his current Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton back in 1994.
 

The government’s health-care reform proposals are opposed by the US Congress and other organisations like the American Medical Association, who say that the realisation would cost US$1 trillion over ten years and still leave millions of people uninsured.

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