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copy of email sent to Hilary Rodham Clinton, Senator from New York, who serves on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee -- from a disabled person in New York State.
I am a recipient of Social Security and SSI and have Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare does not cover dental services. Medicaid apparently does not pay dentists at a rate for which they are willing to do the work, to restore teeth that need a root canal or a full crown prosthesis. I have found that very few dentists accept Medicaid, and those that do provide a different class of service than dentists who cater to patients with good insurance or cash. If a tooth can easily be saved with a root canal and prosthetic crown, a "first class" dentist will tell you so, but the Medicaid dentist will most likelyl diagnose the tooth as being unsalvagable, and tell you it needs to be extracted.
From informal conversations with dentists who I spoke with outside their dental office, I learned that this is because Medicaid pays a relatively large percentage of the fee that the dentist could get from cash patients, or good insurance plans, to extract a tooth, but pays only a very small percentage of the fee that the dentist could get from cash patients, or good insurance plans, to save the tooth with a root canal and prosthetic crown. The dentist cannot make a decent profit by saving the tooth, so he tells the patient it must be extracted.
Many patients do not realize that the tooth could be saved. Some of those that do, like myself, are very upset by this situation. I cannot bring myself to have a tooth extracted, knowing that it could be saved. I value my teeth. I know that people who keep their teeth live longer than those who lose their teeth, and have a much better quality of life. I don't know what to do to save my teeth. I know that there are many people in this same situation.
Recently Medicaid has reduced the services it pays for instead of increasing them. This is unconscionable.
I wish I could find a job, hopefully one with good dental insurance, but I am having trouble, even though I am very computer literate and can type and do data entry and know the accounting cycle.
More on dental care.