A new report gives Iowa a “C” grade for the way one aspect of dental care for low-income children is handled.
The report from the Pew Center on the States checked whether state-provided health insurance plans for low-income children pay to put plastic sealants on teeth. A clear plastic coating over the chewing surfaces of molars prevents tooth decay, at one-third the expense of filling a cavity.
The report suggests the longer tooth decay is left un-treated, the more families — and taxpayers — have to fork over later. In 2009, more than 800,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. were from an adult or a child suffering from a toothache or other preventable dental problem.
The state-run HAWK-I program provides health insurance coverage to low-income children in Iowa. HAWK-I has a dental-only option for parents who can pay up to 20-dollars a month for a dental plan. That plan covers plastic sealants on molars as well as regular dental check-ups.
Other states have more aggressive tooth sealant programs in schools where a majority of students are from low-income households. Those states got an “A” in today’s report card from the Pew Center on the States.