You’re Never Fully Dressed without a Smile
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Ben Franklin coined this phrase nearly three centuries ago, but it seems that the richest nation in the world hasn’t heeded his wise advice. COVID exposed the dire consequences of not providing routine and preventative health care for adults and children alike. Ole Ben’s advice makes sense at a much smaller level as well—in the mouths of babes.
To put it succinctly, regular dental care is a luxury in America and that’s simply bad for children. Most families with private health insurance more often than not have stingy or no dental coverage. Most children insured by Medicaid or CHIP don’t get their teeth checked because too few dentists can handle the paperwork or low reimbursement rates of the public insurance programs. Worse yet, for the 24,000 children who can’t enroll in subsidized health insurance because they’re undocumented, seeing a dentist is out of the question. Tooth decay doesn’t discriminate. Neither should health care coverage, but in America it obviously does.
Thanks to a dynamic duo of dentists, Dr. Mark Goldstein and Dr. Jay Goldsleger, aching teeth can be turned into a smile. They are the backbone of the now 17th year of offering free dental care during PCCY’s Give Kids a Smile Week. With enthusiasm, Dr. Goldsleger will tell anyone, “It’s a win for kids, a win for parents, and a win for us and our staff.”
PCCY’s remote call center is open now through next week to make more than 400 appointments for children and youth (particularly those who have no insurance) during the week of March 29th. Call 215-563-5848 x21 to make an appointment. PCCY thanks the 19 dental practices in Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties that are offering free care and the 80+ volunteers who are scheduling them.
These dentists help us make sure that the lowest income kids in our region get the dental care they need during Smile Week. “We are so lucky to have Medicaid and CHIP. CHIP filled a huge void as the working poor used to come to us when it was an emergency,” said Dr. Goldstein.
Wise Ben Franklin also said, “Doing your best means you never stop trying” and that describes our enduring direct service, volunteer, and policy work to fill the cavity created by the lack of responsible government policy that makes sure kids get all the health care they need.
When it comes to the dental care gap, Pennsylvania could create a CHIP dental-only plan for families with private insurance so every parent can afford to take their child to the dentist. Lawmakers could end the penalty imposed on innocent, undocumented children and make them eligible for public health insurance. And, while we are at it, given the frightening spike in the share of very young low-income children without insurance, the commonwealth could up its game and do much more to make sure that hard working families know the CHIP program is there for their children.
The best part about adopting these policies is that they are the proven treatment for what ails our health care system.