Dental health care disparities overlooked

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Guy Boulton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigates the “lack of access to dental care for children and adults on limited incomes,” calling it “one of the most entrenched, widespread and overlooked problems of the U.S. health care system.”

AHCJ resources
Eric Eyre, who did award-winning coverage of West Virginia’s dental health problem, shares his insights and reporting methods, as well as starting points and key sources. Eyre’s article includes a link to a questionnaire about how the story was reported, a dentist’s presentation on the “Status of Oral and Visual Health in Rural America” from AHCJ’s 2008 Rural Health Journalism Workshop and an MP3 of the discussion at that workshop.

In Wisconsin, Boulton reports, the state Medicaid program for low-income families pays less than private insurers and is thus accepted by few dentists around the state. Boulton takes an in-depth look at the deficiencies of the state program and of HMOs and finds that the state’s not yet doing enough to address the problem.

Among the things Bouton discovered: “The results can be seen in young adults: 42% of all new military recruits cannot be deployed until they receive dental care.”

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