Many dental patients want to know why medical insurance doesn’t cover dental procedures, especially more advanced dentistry services. Dental insurance, like vision insurance, has always been separated from traditional medical insurance. However, when patients need advanced medical procedures for their eyes, medical insurance often covers these treatments like laser eye surgery and glaucoma treatment. For the most part, the same is not true for patients who need advanced dentistry procedures. Keep reading to learn more about the historical reasons why even the most advanced dental care is still completely removed from medical insurance coverage.
1 – Dentistry Was Performed by Barbers Until the 1800s
Until the mid to late 1800s, dental care was still performed by non-professionals. In most cases, the local barber provided dentistry services. In fact, today’s dental chairs still resemble the old fashioned barber’s chairs where patients receive dental treatment during this time. This history colors the way that the medical field views dentistry, and may be part of the reason medical insurance still does not cover advanced dental procedures.
2 – Medical Doctors & Insurance Providers See Dental Care as Non-Essential
Today, many medical professionals and insurance providers still view dental care as non-essential. That means, they do not view dental health concerns as life threatening, and for this reason, believe they should not be covered by medical insurance. However, research continues to show links between dental health issues and chronic and systemic illnesses.
3 – Medical Insurance Providers Claim Patients Wait Too Long for Dental Care
Because too many patients wait weeks, months, and even years to repair their smiles following an oral health issue, medical insurance providers use this as proof that dental care isn’t important. However, the lack of good dental insurance coverage and inability to afford advanced treatments are two of the main reasons patients claim they forego advanced dental restoration. Visiting a dentist for regular care can help patients prevent these advanced oral health issues that aren’t covered by insurance, but many are so concerned about the high cost of care that they only seek treatments when they can no longer be avoided.
4 – Many Patients & Employers Opt Out of Dental Insurance
Employers are required to offer medical insurance for their full-time employees, and US residents are required to show proof of medical insurance coverage for their taxes. Dental insurance is not required for employers or employees. This further reinforces the shaky belief that dental care is non-essential.
5 – There are Some Cases Where Medical Insurance Covers Dental Procedures
The good news is there has been some progress in recent years. There are some situations where your medical insurance will cover part of your dental care. For instance, patients with obstructive sleep apnea will receive medical coverage, if they choose to seek treatment using oral appliances. In some cases, medical insurance will also cover part of the cost of advanced surgical procedures, especially when they are performed in a hospital setting. This bodes well for changes in the future, but for now, finding a dental practice you can trust to properly process and file your dental insurance is essential.