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Report Details Oral Health Emergencies’ Costs

Their findings include:

  • More than 115,000 hospital emergency room visits in 2010 were for dental care with charges exceeding $88 million.

  • Most of the visits could have been avoided with proper preventive care.

  • An analysis of emergency room visits from 2008 to 2010 for dental conditions generally considered preventable found the number of patients seeking emergency room dental care has increased by about 10,000, and charges have increased by more than $21 million.

  • More than half of the increase - $12.9 million - was to Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care.

  • In contrast, charges to private insurance increased only about $800,000.

The data is a conservative estimate of the true cost of care as it reflects only a subset of the most common billing codes used to charge for dental services.

"This demonstrates the worsening state of oral health in Florida, (probably mimicking the rest of the country) and the difficulties of access of the poor/Medicaid populations. While the big number of 115,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms is hard to comprehend, as is the $88 Million in costs, what is most striking is the tripling of the Medicaid numbers in three years from 2008 to 2010. And 20,000 of that 115,000 are children," said Dr. Frank A. Catalanotto with the University of Florida Dental School. "What we do as organizations and individuals is absolutely critical to create equity in our oral health care system."