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Is There a Shortage of Medicaid Dentists?

If you think you have a challenging time finding a dentist who accepts your insurance, then you may not be ready to hear about how frustrating it can be to locate one who participates in Medicaid reimbursement plans.

Government benefits like Medicaid and CHIP are essential resources for at-risk families, pregnant women, children, and youth currently in foster care. But when there’s not a dentist near you who accepts Medicaid, it can leave you wondering whether such providers exist at all.

Why Don’t All Dentists Accept Medicaid?

Why do so many dentists not accept Medicaid? The truth is that it’s harder and harder for dentists to be able to operate by accepting Medicaid benefits alone. As a result, they’re often overworked and have long waiting lists, or have to turn people away because overhead expenses prevent them from being able to earn enough of a profit on Medicaid reimbursements alone to pay for operating expenses like staff salaries and invest back into the practice to further future patient care.

However, some Medicaid dentists have developed operating plans and business models that allow them to see children and families on Medicaid without referring those patients to public clinics. This is good news for families, especially those in more rural areas of Texas, who need oral health treatments beyond routine exams and cleanings.

Most Medicaid dentists will usually work in some type of a group practice with multiple dentists on staff, allowing them to see patients more efficiently and float appointments between providers. This makes it possible to meet normal operating costs while lower-reimbursement procedures and Medicaid cases can be seamlessly worked into the existing schedule without compromising the quality of care anyone receives.

With additional dentists on staff and the efficiency of a group or multi-practice setting, Medicaid patients have more choices as to which dentist they see and where their provider is located. As a result, Medicaid patients won’t have to feel rushed in and out, or sacrifice getting the care they need due to a lack of dentists in their area.

How to Find a Medicaid Dentist

If you’re in Texas or have a child on a plan such as CHIP or STAR, you can locate a Medicaid dentist near you through the Texas Health and Human Services department. Unfortunately, access to dentists may be limited in certain areas of Texas, with most Medicaid dentists concentrated in larger metropolitan areas like Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin.

Locating a multi-provider practice will make it easier for patients on Medicaid to access specialty level care and expert services, such as those related to sedation, dental implants, wisdom tooth surgery, etc. because the providers will be working together in a group setting. This expands the services available compared to visiting a single-dentist private practice.

As a result, Medicaid enrollees can enjoy more convenient care in a flexible timeframe for everyone in their family, minimizing the chances of going without adequate dental services.

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