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Readers And Tweeters Bare Their Teeth On Dental Disparities (And Other Fine Points)

Letters to the Editor is a periodic Kaiser Health News feature. KHN welcomes all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names.

Foaming At The Mouth Over Dental Insurance?

In response to the revelation that a 61-year-old academic had to rely on handouts from his mom to cough up over $50,000 for dental work (“When Is Insurance Not Really Insurance? When You Need Pricey Dental Care,” May 18), Trista McGlamery of Atlanta tweets that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton.

I blew through my coverage this year having 11 cavities filled and scaling done, so I will agree dental insurance isn't sufficient. Another aspect of this is the gap in quality rural dental care. How many people are facing enormous bills now thanks to substandard care earlier?

— Trista McGlamery (@tristamac) May 21, 2018

— Trista McGlamery, Atlanta

Jillian Tullis of San Diego seconds that emotion.

Great article about #dentistry. ‘Underlying this “insurance” system in the U.S. is a broader, unstated premise that dental treatment is somehow optional, even a luxury. From a coverage standpoint, it’s as though the mouth is walled off from the rest of the body.’ #healthcare

— Jillian Tullis (@ProfJillian) May 21, 2018

— Jillian Tullis, San Diego

A professor of economics at Elon University, Steve DeLoach, questions the logic:

It really defies logic. Why do we treat the inside of your mouth different that any other part of your body? Lots of economic problems here since an unhealthy mouth directly affects the health of the rest of your body (which is covered by typical insurance).

— Steve DeLoach (@steve_deloach) May 28, 2018

— Steve DeLoach, Elon, N.C.

Taking the long view is historian Debby Levine of Providence, R.I.

Worth thinking about historical reasons that American mouths and teeth have their own insurance system separate from the rest of the body:

— D Lev (@debbylevine) May 21, 2018

— Debby Levine, Providence, R.I.

Rachel Perrone of Washington, D.C., tells how she took it in the teeth for her son.

I brought my son in for a tooth that was coming in wonky and *hurting* him. But because that was considered orthodonture, not a penny of it was covered. I'll be paying on it forever.

— Rachel Perrone (@RachelPerrone) May 21, 2018

— Rachel Perrone, Washington, D.C.

Representing Pharmacists

I’m disappointed that your image of a pharmacist is a white male (“Looking For Lower Medicare Drug Costs? Ask Your Pharmacist For The Cash Price,” May 30). In 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57 percent of pharmacists were women, nearly 9 percent were black or African-American, 15 percent Asian and roughly 5 percent Hispanic. Please consider reflecting the diversity of people in this occupation.

— Regina Flynn, Strafford, N.H.

Pardon Our ‘Spanish’

In the story “California Lawmakers Seek Reparations For People Sterilized By The State” (April 16), Samantha Young’s use of the adjective “Spanish” to describe the predominantly Mexican Hispanic/Latino community in Hayward, Calif., should be reconsidered. I know this is a complicated descriptive-language issue, but the female population targeted for sterilization was heavily Mexican, and Rosie was of Mexican heritage in a community with little representation from Spain. I’d be inclined not to use the word “Spanish” to generalize about this community.

— Dave Hallock, Edmonds, Wash.

Why Punish The Ill?

Many of these incarcerated individuals who are receiving psychotropic medications have needed them for years but were unable to obtain them for any number of reasons (“Use Of Psychiatric Drugs Soars In California Jails,” May 4). It’s a shame that the only way they can get what their bodies require is to be imprisoned. In fact, the prisons are not just filled with criminals. In most states, inmate populations are made up largely of those with “medical needs” not “criminal rehabilitation needs.” A case of “the wrong doctors treating the wrong diseases.”

— Joe Blough, Rock Hill, Mo.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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