One of the most shameful gaps in the American health care system involves the country’s poorest children. They can’t get basic dental treatment. It’s not that they don’t have insurance—many of them do. The problem is that dentists won’t treat them.
According to the Children’s Dental Health Project, an oral health advocacy group, 46.9 million kids are currently covered by Medicaid or CHIP, the government program that provides health insurance to children in families whose incomes are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid. But in a recent survey, only 32 percent of dentists in private practice reported treating any patients on public assistance, and that figure is likely an overestimate.