Patients With Basic Dental Problems Continually Visit ER



There are about 130 million Americans that feel they have no choice.

Without dental insurance, their only chance for dental treatment is to visit the emergency room. This problem continues to worsen.

Based on the current economy, there are also only about 10 percent of dentists in some states, like Illinois, that will take on Medicaid patients. The problem arises when the dental patients visit the emergency room, and at almost 10 times the cost, according to the Pew Center on the States.

Between the years 2006 and 2009, dental-related visits to the emergency room increased by 16 percent.

In Illinois there were nearly 66,000 residents that visited the emergency room in 2009 with some type of dental problem. About half of the problems could have been prevented, according to a division of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

And there are some dental problems that emergency rooms can’t adequately treat. Many emergency rooms don’t even have a dentist, and the patient ends up having to visit the dentist any way. But without dental insurance, therein lies the problem for the person.

For comparison’s sake, in Illinois, an extraction costs the state $57 while it can cost around $400 in the emergency room. Never mind the fact that the actual problem may not even be fixed in the emergency room.

In some states, like Illinois, the problem lies with Medicaid. The overhead costs take out anywhere from 65 to 70 percent of the every dollar and Medicaid reimburses only about 39 percent of the service. Therefore, treating low-income patients doesn’t make much fiscal sense for dentists, so they don’t take them on.