American Morning

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February 25th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Why is dental insurance not part of health insurance?

(CNN) – President Obama's health care summit kicked off today in Washington. We expect plenty of partisan bickering, but what will all this really mean for you?

For some answers, we turned to our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He reached into his mailbag to answer some of your health care questions on Thursday's American Morning.

Question #1
"Why is dental insurance not considered part of health insurance?" -M.C. Mitchell

Question #2
"What will happen when there are not enough doctors to take care of all the patients?" -Virginia


Filed under: Dr. Gupta's Mailbag • Health
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Snaggletooth

    As one who has medical insurance but no dental coverage, it mystifies me why they are not combined. It is common knowledge now that dental health directly affects the rest of your physical health. Gum disease and other infections in the mouth are directly linked to other medical conditions such as heart disease, inflammation, etc. I hear that same lecture every time I visit the dentist for my yearly visit (my medical premiums and deductibles are so high, I can only afford to go once a year). I am missing a tooth which is a constant embarrasment, but I cannot afford the 3000 to 4000 dollars it would cost for a bridge or implant. I looked into separate dental insurance coverage, but the premiums were quite high, and added to the deductibles amounted to more than I would pay without the insurance! So I try to keep my gums healthy, and hope for no dental disasters. What depresses me the most that when I have a problem with a tooth and need a root canal, etc., all I can afford is to have it pulled. I see the gaps in my smile growing more numerous over the years. I have no idea how I would pay for dentures. We don't qualify for medicaid, although if this health insurance bill doesn't go through, we're only one serious illness away from winding up losing everything. Then I guess we WILL qualify. Perhaps then I might get my missing tooth replaced?

    March 20, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  2. Jim

    It appears that neither Dr. Gupta or President Obama know all the details. Dental insurance is not covered as part of private health insurance for the same reason it is not part of Medicare/Medicaid for adults: dentists do not want to be subject to having their practices run by a mindless bureacracy and through lobbying by the American Dental Association saw to it that it was not mandated. Dental services are a required service for most Medicaid-eligible individuals under the age of 21, but only as a required component of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit.

    March 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
  3. Saffoula

    To those who are blaming trial lawyers for excessive health insurance costs- high medical malpractice verdicts are both a myth and red herring in this debate. The rising cost of health insurance is in no way related to malpractice claims, but the health insurers want you to think that so you don't look at all of the profits they are raking in. If you were the victim of actual medical malpractice, I doubt you would support a damage cap that effectively takes power away from the jury to make a decision about the particular facts of your case. Say a doctor goes in to do a routine operation and negligently severs a nerve that causes permanent paralysis in a 20-year old. Capping damages (some bills have had limits of $250,000) is patently insufficient to compensate someone for a lifetime of paralysis for a medical error. The only insurance rates that should be rising are medical malpractice insurance rates, assuming claims are rising or judgments are trending high. Oh, and by the way, if an award is truly excessive, a judge has discretion to reduce it upon a motion by the party.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  4. JD

    For that matter, how come car insurance isn't part of the government "reform"?

    It's because this has nothing to do with real reform or making health care affordable. It's all about the national socialist power grab to steal and then systematically cripple 1/6th of the American economy.

    March 9, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  5. April

    I would happier if they didn't have video at all. It's bothersome, especially if you have a slower connection, and you have to sit through a frickin' commercial every single time.

    At least give us a text option, CNN!

    March 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  6. 3ric

    I'm deaf, too, and tired of clicking a link on CNN.com only to find yet another uncaptioned video. 😦 Google has an auto-captioner in place now. There is no technical reason CNN.com could not do the same thing. I see lots of ads here that would seem to provide the revenue needed for the small cost associated with captioning. I thought CNN.com was progressive. Guess not.

    March 5, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  7. Bill Clark

    On last Thursday morning's 'American Morning Housecall' show you recited some statistics about the incidence of medical errors, how many of those errors resulted in lawsuits and how few of those resulted in any payment to the injured patients. Can you tell me where those stats came from? Was a particular study the source of your stats? Whose study and where can I find a report from the study? Thank you.

    March 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  8. Ayesha Lytton

    Nobody has to make less money per se – we could save a lot by stopping hospitals from over-charging for supplies, having universal coverage so people don't use the ER as a primary care doctor, and redirecting/cutting off drug seekers and other ER time and money wasters. Physicians assistants and nurse practitioners can also take on a greater role. If I am sick and need a strep test and maybe some antibiotics, do I really need to see a MD? A PA, NP, or even a RN can handle that. Those are all good paying jobs for intelligent and highly trained people, but less exorbitant than what MDs get paid. Care thus becomes more affordable and accessible to all.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
  9. Diane Gutierrez

    You should be aware that your video remarks answering questions are important to people like me who clicked on this story. However, it is not accessible to deaf people, because it lacked captioning.

    CNN is not being proactive in captioning its online videos but at the same time their news broadcasts on TV are captioned.

    At present the laws requires captions on TV, and not yet for online.

    An example of a company following the letter and not the spirit of the law.

    I remain uninformed, uneducated and resentful of being excluded.

    March 1, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  10. John Grzibowski

    In order to save money in health care someone has to make less money. Who is going to make less money? I say the trial lawyers, people commiting fraud and the government. With these savings health insurance will go down and the people win.

    February 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm |