How Health Insurance Slows Medical Innovation

(p. A8) A recent study led by Wendell Evans at the University of Sydney supports growing evidence that early tooth decay, before a cavity forms, can often be arrested and reversed with simple treatments that restore minerals in the teeth, rather than the more typical drill-and-fill approach.
The randomized, controlled trial followed 19 dental practices in Australia for three years, then researchers checked up on the patients again four years later. The result: After seven years, patients receiving remineralization treatment needed on average 30% fewer fillings.
. . .
There is a substantial body of research supporting remineralization as a treatment for early tooth decay, and little opposition in the dental profession, says Margherita Fontana, a professor of cariology at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. Tradition, however, has been an obstacle to widespread use of the treatment. “For older generations [of dentists], it just feels wrong to leave decay and not remove it,” Dr. Fontana says. “That’s how they were trained.”
Reimbursement is another obstacle. Insurance typically covers application of fluoride varnish in children, but not adults. The cost ranges from $25 to $55, according to the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. Other preventive treatments also generally aren’t covered.

For the full story, see:
DANA WECHSLER LINDEN. “Simple Dental Treatments Can Help Reverse Decay.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., APRIL 12, 2016): D3.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 11, 2016, and has the title “Simple Dental Treatments May Reverse Decay.”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.