The Impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on Oral Health in Low-Income Individuals

James R. Barrie, Oscar Wambuguh


Most low-income families struggle with financial stability making it difficult to access the health care they need. This challenge is especially prevalent for individuals trying to seek dental care services. Low-income households with limited health insurance coverage often perceive dental care as a luxury. However, good oral health signifies good overall health and can prevent future health problems. One of the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was to increase dental care access for low-income individuals. The ACA was designed to expand dental coverage to be more comprehensive and decrease individuals’ financial burdens. The current study uses research and scholarly review articles from the past seven years to understand whether expanding dental care coverage through the ACA leads to better oral health for low-income individuals. The study shows that because of the ACA, there is a strong correlation between low-income individuals seeking dental care and improving their oral health. Extending dental coverage by the ACA significantly decreases the financial barrier for individuals and allows them to consult with a dentist more often. In addition, routine dental visits provide patients with proper oral health knowledge. The implementation of the ACA is also decreasing the number of emergency dental visits since individuals can access dental check-ups and prevent those visits. Further research is needed to understand how enrollees are utilizing all the benefits the Act provides for. Ensuring the ACA remains in place will allow future generations access to dental care, have better oral health, and reduce the strain on emergency dental departments.

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