Home Dental This Valentine’s Day, show some love to our patients with Medicaid – New Dentist Blog

This Valentine’s Day, show some love to our patients with Medicaid – New Dentist Blog

by adminjay

Blogger Elizabeth Simpson, D.M.D., is a general dentist from Indianapolis, Indiana. She attended Tufts University School of Dental Medicine for her dental education. After graduation, she did a one-year general practice residency at Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry. She is now a clinical assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Dentistry. She is the vice chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention and a medical reviewer for the website Everyday Health.

I love Valentine’s Day, and, whether single or in a relationship, I always have. I love the colors, I love the little valentines, I love the crafts, I love the treats, and I love the public being forced to show love. Contrived or not, I love that someone (greeting card companies?) decided to create a holiday based around love. And I would ask that this Valentine’s Day, you show some love to our patients with Medicaid insurance.

As someone who spent the majority of my years of practice working in underserved communities in jobs ranging from seeing patients on-site in nursing homes, to being an associate in private practices where Medicaid was accepted, to working in federally qualified health centers, I have been a proud Medicaid provider my entire almost 11 years of practice. Now, as the vice chair of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention, I spend time outside of my working hours working with a team of people who are actively working to improve Medicaid for patients and providers.

I once heard someone say we can’t solve the access to care crisis with free dental days. Last year, Donated Dental Services provided dental treatment to 228 people in my state. In my state, over the past couple of years, about 200 dentists have dropped Medicaid, but there’s about 2 million people who use Medicaid insurance. Don’t stop reading, fellow dentists. My plea is delivered with an abundance of gratitude to those of you who have given your time and talents to our patients and provided free services, whether through a Mission of Mercy event or Donated Dental Services or Dental Lifeline Network. With my gratitude comes the plea: Why not accept Medicaid? I know why you will say that you don’t. I’ve heard every argument there is: The reimbursement rates are an insult and not enough to keep your business afloat. The paperwork is, at minimum, a hassle. The no-show rates are abysmal. I am not asking you to turn your practice into a “Medicaid office.” I am petitioning you to sign up for it, while you carry on business as usual, and maybe just take on one new Medicaid patient a month…every other week…maybe even once a week?

I heard a dentist say recently, “Medicaid patients are the worst patients you’re ever going to see.” I felt like someone stabbed me in the heart. These are human beings whose lives come along with, oftentimes, more complications, but does that make it OK to say they are “the worst patients you’re ever going to see”? To make a sweeping generalization that the entire population of people are “the worst patients you’re ever going to see” — because of the type of insurance they have? My patients who have Medicaid have made me love dentistry. I have loads of before and after pictures of cases I’ve done and gifts and cards from grateful patients — who had Medicaid insurance. When my best friend and her husband were fostering their son (my godson), he had Medicaid insurance as a ward of the state. Was he, as an infant, one of “the worst patients you’re ever going to see,” or was he exempt from this because his foster parents themselves weren’t covered by Medicaid?

I’ve heard people say, even if reimbursement rates are drastically increased, they still won’t accept Medicaid. At graduation, we took a pledge, but does that pledge only extend to those who can afford treatment or who have insurance rates that reimburse higher than Medicaid?

I would politely ask that you consider what I’ve written. Even if you don’t want to accept a few Medicaid patients into your practice and deal with the inconveniences to help this patient population who is just as deserving of quality care as any other, at least stop the generalizations and stigmas. This Valentine’s Day, show some love to our patients with Medicaid.

For resources on health equity from the ADA, visit ADA.org/healthequity.

Source link

Related Articles