Loss of Insurance Leads to Hard Decisions for Many Patients

Published 08/05/2021

A new national survey of nearly 400 dental providers participating in Medicaid dental plans offers more evidence that the pandemic is contributing to a coming surge in oral disease.

In the new survey, conducted by CareQuest Institute, nearly half of dental providers (46%) said they observed an increase in the number of patients who reported having lost their commercial dental insurance because of a job loss related to the pandemic. Providers who saw this increase in the loss of coverage said that patients lacking insurance had taken a variety of actions:

  • 73% of providers said these patients had cancelled a dental appointment.
  • 62% said these patients had postponed an appointment.
  • 41% said these patients had asked about alternative treatment plans.
  • 35% said these patients kept their appointments and asked about private pay or other options for financing the cost of care

These findings echo the takeaways from a 2021 survey of consumers that showed about 6 million U.S. adults lost their dental insurance because of job losses or benefits changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. These data raise concerns that both the dental and medical care system could face a rising stream of patients with more acute oral health or systemic health needs.

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