Why America's Central Bank Is Concerned About Our Growing Dental Health Care Crisis

Huffington Post: The Blog: August 22, 2015
by Wendell Potter

If the U.S. Federal Reserve is concerned about the state of dental care in this country, you know we have a problem.

In fact, according to the Fed, we have a very big problem.

The Federal Reserve Board of Governor's Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, released last month, contained some alarming statistics about the ability of Americans to find affordable health care -- especially dental health care.

The report -- which came almost 15 years to the day after U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher's startling assessment of oral health in America -- found that access to affordable dental care appears not to have improved much at all over the past decade and a half, especially among low-income families and people of color.

The report was the result of a survey the Fed conducted to get a handle on how many of us are experiencing economic hardships severe enough to make it difficult to make ends meet.

Thirty-two percent of those surveyed said they would have a hard time weathering a three-month period of "financial disruption" that might result from life-altering events such as the loss of a job or death of a primary breadwinner.

But job loss was not the main reason for a setback. Even with Obamacare, which enabled many of the previously uninsured to enroll in a health plan, the number one reason people cited for their financial hardship was a medical emergency.