Federal Heath Care Legislation and Your Dental Health
Things are becoming clearer, now that the public has had a chance to study the Federal Health Care bill. Initially, no one was sure how the legislation would affect the average citizen, and there is still some doubt in areas of policy and Health and Human Services implementation, but what John Q Public can expect is slowly coming into focus.
As far as your oral health care, the legislation largely bypassed the practice of dentistry. Aside from a commission to study "the right to oral health", a requirement that all dental records be stored electronically by 2014, and a yet to be funded expansion of child dental services, only one significant change has been found. Tucked inside the bill is a provision to allow "Dental Health Technicians" to prepare (read drill) and restore (read fill) decayed teeth, and to perform simple extractions. This also allows anesthetic injection by the Technician.
This classification of health care providers has not existed before, and the training requirements, experience, and supervision of their care has not yet been outlined. HHS will provide that for us at some date.
The Dental Health Technician position comes out of a need to provide oral health care to indigenous populations in Alaska and Minnesota. It's now being promoted as a method of bringing oral health care to under-served populations throughout the US. These are mainly folks who live below the poverty line.
While I don't think anyone in our practice will be "dentally affected" by Obamacare, at least not directly, the economics of health care will likely have a profound effect on your wallet.
Many in the dental profession anticipate a vast change in medical health insurance coverage. Dental and Vision insurance have long been add-ons to employers' medical care contracts. With the potential impact Obamacare will have on the health insurance industry, look for dental insurance to become more restrictive (fewer benefits) and much more costly. Our front desk tells me that this is already occurring.
Also, expect that your medical insurance will cost more, and that will mean less discretionary spending for your family. Some analysts predict a 300% increase in your health insurance premium over the next 5 years.
Meanwhile, federal tax rates are scheduled to increase across the board in order to pay for this expansion in entitlement spending. Look for Uncle Sam to be asking for an additional 10% (according to some analysts.)
No matter your opinion on Health Care Reform, expect that things will be changing. As I heard one leader in our profession say, "They've changed the rules and nobody knows how things will be in 10 years."
Godspeed and have a great Memorial Day weekend.
Dr Sandlin | Sandlin DDS Lawrenceville, GA