Prices for personal protective equipment (PPE) have increased substantially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute’s latest data from its COVID-19 economic impact tracking poll, conducted the week of November 30.
On average, across all categories of PPE, nearly a third of dentists reported that prices have tripled or more. The increased prices have led to dentists relying on a greater variety of PPE distributors, including turning to Amazon and smaller distributors, compared to before the pandemic.
Also according to the poll, a third of dental practices reported “business as usual” in terms of patient volume, which was estimated at 76% of pre-pandemic levels. Recovery has been slower in public health settings, where only 20% reported “business as usual,” and patient volume was estimated at 66% of pre-pandemic levels.
The pandemic also has caused 8% of Medicaid providers to disenroll from the program. An additional 15% are considering disenrolling in the coming months, and 14% remain unsure about their intentions to disenroll from Medicaid. About 20% of Medicaid providers have decreased the number of Medicaid patients they can accommodate since the start of the pandemic.
Additionally, the poll found, nearly all practices can accommodate more patients than they are currently seeing. Similar to private practices, most health centers are operating below 75% of their current maximum capacity with the greatest share seeing 50% to 75% of the patients they could accommodate. About one in six health centers and clinics are operating at less than 25% of their current maximum capacity.
The ADA Health Policy Institute launched its COVID-19 economic impact tracking poll on March 23. Dentists also were asked to join a panel in which the complete a biweekly poll. In this latest wave, a nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 dentists responded.
The ADA Health Policy Institute is seeking to expand its panel of dentists for its ongoing COVID-19 economic poll in an effort to continue to monitor the impact of the pandemic on dental practices and ensure its representativeness.