Advocates Pressing For States To Recognize Dental Therapists To Help Meet Consumer Needs
Millions of Americans do not seek dental care, often because they can't afford it. A new mid-level professional that could handle some of the regular care with less expense, might help. In other consumer health news, some employers are offering cash bonuses to workers who find cheaper medical care, telemedicine is opening some doors and retirement health care can be expensive.
A Push To Improve Access To Dental Care
In a report to Congress last year, the American Dental Association found that more than 181 million Americans didn’t visit a dentist and that more than 2 million people showed up in the emergency room with dental pain in 2010, double the rate from 2000. Some people believe a solution to improve access is to create dental therapists, a provider whose responsibilities fall between a dentist and a hygienist. This summer the agency that accredits dental schools said it would create guidelines to train this new mid-level professional. Supporters say this could build momentum for legislation pending in more than ten states that would allow these new workers to drill, fill and extract teeth. (Gorenstein, 10/14)
The Associated Press:
Employers Offer Cash To Push Shopping Around For Health Care
Paula Bennett pockets about $3,000 a year from her employer mainly for driving around 80 miles roundtrip for a deal on doses of her Crohn's disease treatment Remicade. The extra income comes through SmartShopper, a program offered by some employers to provide cash to workers who choose quality health care options with lower prices. (Murphy, 10/14)
How Will You Get Health Insurance In Retirement?
For many workers, leaving full-time employment means leaving employer-provided health insurance behind as well. In 2015, only 23 percent of employers with 200 or more employees offer any form of health insurance for their retirees. No wonder the main reason people give for working well beyond typical retirement age is the need to stay on their employer's health insurance plan. (Martin, 10/!5)
Telemedicine Holds Promise Of Cheaper, Wider Medical Care
Samantha Cunningham was halfway through a five-hour road trip to a music festival in Bradley, Calif., when she realized she’d left her asthma inhaler back home in Sacramento. ... a friend on the trip suggested she try American Well, a service that allows smartphone or Web device users to have a video consultation with a physician. ... Cunningham, 23, was soon discussing her predicament face to face with Dr. Minoti Parab, a family doctor in Charlotte, N.C., who sees only “telemedicine” patients like Cunningham on her home computer. The app download and visit with Dr. Parab took about 30 minutes and cost $49 — far less than a traditional office visit. When it was over, Cunningham had a prescription for a new inhaler that she filled at a pharmacy in Bradley. ... It’s also a perfect example of how telemedicine — using electronic technology to provide remote patient care and to exchange medical information — is transforming health care delivery. (Pugh, 10/14)