The Dental Insurance Situation in the U.S.
At the end of 2016, 77% of the American population had acquired dental insurance. Per NADP.org, that’s 249.1 million Americans. The number sounds impressive, but broken down, it’s not impressive at all. Check out how the numbers break down:
- Two-thirds, or 164.2 million U.S. citizens, of the 249.1 million had private dental insurance
- 90% of those with private dental insurance got it through an employer or a group like AARP
- 3% received dental benefits through their medical plan
- The other 83.9 million received dental benefits through public programs like Medicaid
In the U.S. today, most people with dental insurance continue to receive it through their place of work. Although the insurance works for preventative care like cleanings and other aspects of dental care, the insurance won’t work for more detailed procedures like dental implants.
More importantly, per the Journal of Dental Hygiene, dental insurance often isn’t available for “those that need it the most”. Let’s dig deep into the dental insurance situation in the United States. By doing so, we can more readily discover why dental care in Costa Rica is a viable option.
What Does Most Dental Insurance in the U.S. Cover?
Dental care in the United States remains in what is called 100-80-50 coverage. Each number represents the percentage covered. 100 means 100%, 80 means 80% and 50 means 50%. See below for how 100-80-50 breaks down in terms of what’s covered:
- 100 – Preventive measures such as cleanings and x-rays
- 80 – Fillings, root canals, and other basic procedures
- 50 – Intensive procedures like dental implants
If Americans only used their dental insurance for cleanings and x-rays, they’d never pay out of pocket other than their copays. However, this is never the case. U.S. citizens must pay 20% for every filling, as an example. If they need a root canal, most Americans must pay 20% of that procedure.
If they wish to get dental implants, forget it. The out of pocket cost leapfrogs to 50%. In the United States, the cost for a single dental implant can go up to $6,500. That doesn’t include the cost of x-rays and a bone graft if one is required.
Reasons for Lack of Dental Insurance
There are multiple reasons for lack of dental insurance in the United States. Below, we’ve written down the three most prevalent reasons why U.S. citizens don’t have dental insurance.
Income Status/Poverty – If you can’t afford dental insurance, you can’t purchase dental insurance. In the United States, it’s estimated that 39.7 million Americans lived in poverty in 2017. The percentage of the total U.S. population living in poverty was 12.3%.
Dentists Shortage – In 2018, there were 199,486 dentists working in dentistry. Sounds like a massive number until we put it in perspective. In 2010, 8 years earlier, their were 209,000 practicing primary care physicians in the U.S. There are significantly more medical doctors than dentists. As of 2018, 61.0 dentists worked per 100,000 in population in the United States. That’s a ton of patients for every dentist. The lack of dentists means prices remain high. When prices remain high, so does the cost of dental insurance.
Oral Care is Low on the Totem Pole – Most Americans don’t consider oral care to be as important as health care. What they don’t understand is that not only is oral care as important as health care but in some cases it’s even more important.
A recent study pointed to a specific gum disease as possibly causing Alzheimer’s. Other issues that can occur due to lack of oral care include:
- Tooth decay
- Periodontal gum disease
- Respiratory diseases
- Heart attacks
MRSA is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s a bacteria that can affect the bloodstream and lining of the heart. It’s also shown a resistance to various medications.
Who is Most Affected by the United States’ Oral Health Reality?
The elderly, children, and low-income individuals and families are most affected by the United States’ oral health reality.
In the United States, by far, this is the most affected group. The elderly, those in the U.S. aged 65 or older, projects to increase. By 2030, only 11 years from now, 1 in every 5 U.S. residents will be considered elderly.
Elderly individuals are more prone to lacking dental insurance because they can’t afford it. Not only that, but like most everyone in the United States, the elderly are on a 100-80-50 dental plan coverage. Forget it if an elderly individual needs a dental implant. They’re unlikely to be able to afford 50% of the cost associated with it.
Finally, older people are prone to more health problems. They need dental insurance more than other groups in American society due to their health problems, yet it’s much harder for them to get the insurance they need. Why? Because in the United States the healthier you are, the easier it is for you to get insurance and the elderly are never as healthy as the young.
Children cannot make their own decisions when it comes to dental health. Also, children lack income. They depend on parents and guardians to provide them with dental insurance. This means children suffer if their parents can’t afford dental insurance.
Low-Income Individuals and Families
People in the United States can only purchase dental insurance if they can afford it. It becomes a low priority when faced with paying the electricity bill, or purchasing food, or purchasing medical health insurance.
Dental Care Costs in the U.S. versus Costa Rica
Dental treatments costs significantly more in the United States than it does in Costa Rica. When it comes to dental implants, the difference is astronomical. While a dental implant in the U.S. could cost from an average of $4,000 up to $6,500, the cost of a single dental implant in Costa Rica runs about $975 or less.
How Care Overseas Can Help
Getting dental implants is a life altering decision. Money invested to get dental implants leads to a better quality of life. It’s important that individuals looking to get a dental implant procedure don’t make their decision solely on saving money.
At Care Overseas we know that choosing a dentist abroad is tough. It’s also time consuming because there are so many dental implant surgeons to choose from. Which dental implant specialists are most qualified to perform your procedure?
Like you, we care about our dental health. Also like you, we care about our wallets. That’s why Care Overseas has done the research to find the perfect dental implant surgeon for you. Because we have a local team, we’re able to evaluate and recommend only the best, most experienced, dental implant practitioners and dental clinics in Costa Rica.
We only recommend dental clinics and dental implant specialists after thoroughly evaluating and interviewing them. We can confidently say we recommend the very best qualified clinics and dentists. Those that we recommend provide comparable care and expertise to dental implant clinics and surgeons found in the United States and Canada.