When a free dental service is too good to be true
The free dental care in the United States has come under fire for offering consumers no choice but to pay exorbitant fees.
| Getty Former Obama aide tells ABC News that the cost of a free visit to a dentist is a “death sentence”Read MoreRead MoreThe program, known as dental insurance, is being phased out in most states after a series of recent health-care scandals including one involving a botched procedure that killed a patient.
In a scathing review published Thursday by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a nonprofit research organization, the institute found that the average cost of dental care nationwide was $859, with about half of that amount coming from a limited number of dental clinics.
A study by the nonprofit American Dental Association in 2012 found that just 2% of dentists in the U.S. are qualified to practice in a given year.
And although the American DontCare program was supposed to be an alternative to paying for dental care, the dental association says it is only available in a few states.
A few states are also scrapping the program.
California and New Jersey have both cut their programs by at least half, while Connecticut and Pennsylvania are considering eliminating the program altogether.
But some dentists say that the free-for-all of dental insurance has led to unnecessary medical expenses and the closure of clinics that provide basic dental care.
Dr. Andrew Stavropoulos, a member of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons’ dental advisory committee, said in a statement that while he supports the Affordable Care Act, it is “not an effective dental insurance program.”
Stavropopoulos told The Associated Press that there is no universal program to insure dental care and the “costs associated with it are far higher than what the average person pays for their care.”
He said the program is not as effective as other government programs because it doesn’t require dentists to be licensed.