ER Visits For Routine Dental Care Driving Up Hospital Costs - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

ER Visits For Routine Dental Care Driving Up Hospital Costs

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(WLNS) - People who go to Michigan hospitals seeking treatment for dental conditions that could have been prevented through regular dental care increase health care costs by millions of dollars in the state.

That's according to a new study commissioned by Delta Dental of Michigan.

The study revealed that in 2011, at least 7,000 patients visited Michigan hospital emergency rooms and more than 1,000 patients were hospitalized for preventable dental conditions.

The report also found that while payments exceeded $15 million, hospital charges for the dental care services totaled about $58 million in 2011, a ratio of charges to payments that implies that hospitals may not cover their costs providing this care.

Researchers add that most of the patients likely did not have access to basic dental care services that could have prevented their condition. Improved access would reduce costs overall because the cost of one hospitalization, about $12,448 on average, “would pay for decades of preventative and diagnostic care for patients using private dental insurance in Michigan.”

The report found that most dental-related visits to hospital ERs are not emergencies. For example, 42 percent of U.S. hospital visits in 2009 were for cavities (dental caries). In addition, 63 percent of U.S. hospital admissions following oral-health-related ER visits that year were for abscesses. Each of these conditions could be treated in a dental office.


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