Hillsborough resident S.K. is a single mother who is on Disability due to complications from cancer treatments. Sixteen years ago, she was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and underwent radiation therapy that greatly impacted her teeth. She lived in New Jersey at that time, where Medicaid covered the dental care she needed in the wake of her cancer treatments.
Five years ago, S.K. and her son moved to Florida. Though she qualifies for Florida Medicaid, she struggles to find dentists and orthodontists that will accept her Medicaid Dental Plan. “The Florida Medicaid dental insurance is absolutely worthless,” she says. “Even when I or my child go for a simple cleaning I have to pay [out-of-pocket] because they tell me a ‘deep cleaning’ is required and it is not covered.”
S.K. currently lives with debilitating tooth pain. An expensive procedure is needed to alleviate the pain and save her tooth, but her insurance will not cover it. “Medicaid sees this as ‘cosmetic dentistry,’” she explains. “I cannot understand why something like this is not covered.” The cheapest dentist she could find still requires her to open a ‘Care Credit Account’ to cover the $1100 bill. She will also need a crown that will cost an additional $1400. The out-of-pocket costs and accumulating medical debt have put increasing financial strain on S.K. and her son.
For adults over 21, Florida Medicaid only covers emergency dental services to alleviate pain or infection. This means that often the only procedure dentists are willing to do is pull teeth and prepare the mouth for dentures. But S.K. knows firsthand the importance of restorative dental care. “Florida residents on Medicaid need to keep their teeth, not only for their physical health but also for their mental health. Your smile makes you feel good about yourself; confident.”
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians like S.K. lack access to dental care, putting their lives on hold and their health at risk. By increasing Medicaid dental coverage to include more comprehensive care, Florida could extend life-changing and community-strengthening support to our neighbors like S.K. Join the movement for Florida’s oral health at healthyfla.org/voices4oralhealth.
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