Dental care coverage under Medicaid is problematic. Since “dental care is placed outside the scope of overall health care,” very minimal funds are delegated towards preventive dental care in favor of emergency services. Consequently, ER visits due to dental issues are becoming more common; this is problematic since emergency services are much more expensive and generally ineffective for solving dental problems. For example, if a patient makes an ER visit due to pain from a tooth abscess, the clinic or hospital can only prescribe antibiotics or painkillers, which does not treat the cause of the abscess. A trip to the ER costs the Medicaid patient little to nothing, but costs the medical industry thousands of dollars. However, because Medicaid spends so much money on emergency care, it cannot afford to reimburse dentists for preventive care.
Since Medicaid reimburses private practice dentists very minimally, dentists are hesitant to accept Medicaid patients. The majority of dentists feel that health care reform thus far has only made the system more bureaucratic; “[it] doesn’t increase dental access but does increase certain Medicaid requirement for providers.” Providers are forced into more paperwork and regulation, but are compensated less than the cost of care. Until there is true reform, Medicaid patients will continue to receive improper care while costing health care industry more money.