According to new data released by the California Healthcare Foundation, the US spends only about 4% of its total healthcare costs, about $111 billion, on dental care. And, unlike most of the healthcare sector, spending on

dental care remains relatively stable.

Keeping Costs down

The healthcare costs report gives detailed information about the growth and changes in costs affecting Californians and the rest of America. This information raises some very intriguing possibilities on why healthcare costs are so high in most areas, but relatively low for dental care.

Total healthcare spending in 2013 was $2.9 trillion, which is expected to grow to $5.1 trillion by 2023, an increase of about 75% in just ten years. This may even be an underestimate, as actual costs for healthcare grew by 3.6% from 2012 to 2013. By contrast, dental care costs rose slowly by only 0.9% over the same period.

So, why does dental spending remain low? It’s hard to know for sure, but the infographic points out one way that dental care differs from other types of medical care: most costs are paid directly out-of-pocket by patients, rather than by private insurance. For hospital care, which accounts for 32% of spending, 37% of costs were covered by private insurance, with only 11% being paid out of pocket by patients. A further 43% of costs were covered by Medicare and Medicaid. This sector experienced one of the highest growth rates in cost, growing at about 4.3% from 2012-2013. Dental care, on the other hand was covered mostly by private insurers (47%) and individuals paying out of pocket (42%), with less than 10% being paid by Medicare or Medicaid.
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The Tradeoff: Unmet Needs

Unfortunately, cost is only part of the story when it comes to spending on dental care. Another report released recently by the Urban Institute pointed out that, of people with unmet medical needs due to cost, over 71% had unmet dental needs. While Americans are managing to avoid spending too much on dental care, it’s largely the result of people just not getting the dental care they need.

Don’t let costs keep you from getting the dental treatment you need. And don’t try to cut corners in exchange for lower quality care. We offer a number of flexible payment options that allow you to get quality dental care while still staying within your budget.

To learn more about payment options to help meet your dental care needs, please call (949) 551-5902 for an appointment with an Orange County dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.