Five years ago, when hard economic times triggered a need for spending cuts, nearly all but pregnant women and persons in long term care lost dental coverage through Medi-Cal in California. However, that trend is reversing, and many low income families will now have the opportunity to receive dental care. Lack of dental coverage has plagued the low income in California causing declining oral health and an increase in emergency room costs due to untreated dental conditions.
Last June, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to provide Denti-Cal coverage, part of Medi-Cal, to an estimated 1.6 million state residents. Additionally, due to changes implemented by the adoption of the Affordable Care Act, another 1.3 million are expected to be eligible for coverage as well. This marks a landmark opportunity for the low income families in California to have access to preventative care services and avoid costly emergency visits.
Though the cost of the Medi-Cal program will increase from approximately $682-942 million, there is expected to be a significant decrease in emergency medical costs. Currently, the low income individuals that turn to emergency treatment are unable to pay the hospital bills which are being subsidized by the state. In time, the cost savings afforded by offering preventative care should significantly reduce the additional amount spent on these emergency room visits.