Poll: NKY struggling with oral health #Kentucky (via Cincinati.com)

25 Apr

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A poll released Tuesday paints a bleak picture of oral health in Northern Kentucky.

According to the results of the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, 1.7 million Kentuckians are without dental insurance, and fewer than two-thirds of the state’s residents have been to a dentist in the past year. Only 56 percent of Northern Kentucky residents have had dental care in the past year, according to the poll, while almost one of every five local residents have not been to a dentist for at least five years.

“I think everyone has recognized it’s long been a problem, but the latest results are sobering. Very, very sobering, particularly for Northern Kentucky,” said Jennifer Chubinski, director of community research for the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, which funded the poll with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

The poll tracked answers from a random sample of almost 1,700 state residents. The results have a margin of error of 2.5 percent.

Northern Kentucky had fewer residents (56.4 percent) seeking care in the past year than every other region of the state save the Appalachian region. Statewide, that number was 60.5 percent.

Northern Kentucky also trailed only the Appalachian counties in the number of residents who hadn’t been to a dentist in more than five years and skipping care due to cost.

Dental insurance numbers were also low in Northern Kentucky, with 54.6 percent of respondents saying they didn’t have coverage.

Even those with coverage have found themselves in need, said Chris Goddard, executive director of HealthPoint Family Care. The nonprofit practice receives grants that help it provide care to the non- or under-insured population.

“Because of changes to Medicaid and Medicare, even those with benefits are having to pay more for care and doctors can’t provide reduced fees as much as they have,” said Goddard. “So, more people have less access to care. ”

Peggy Bellew, who serves as the executive director of the Northern Kentucky Dental Association, says the association has always received phone pleas for help, but the group has taken more of those calls lately. She refers them to reduced-fee care or practices offering community outreach programs. It’s getting harder to fill the need, though.

“Some practices have lines outside their doors, lines that start forming long before the office opens its door,” she said.

Source: http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130424/NEWS0103/304240070/Poll-NKY-struggling-oral-health

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