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Dental Insurance

A quick look at people without dental insurance

In 2019, almost 74 million people, or nearly 25% of Americans, are without dental insurance in the United States. Some of that population will purchase individual dental coverage or find coverage through government plans. However, the number of individuals without dental insurance is expected to increase to as many as 82 million. At the height of the unemployment rate's rise, coronavirus-related job losses and cutbacks left over 16 million without dental insurance from an employer.

Let's take a closer look at this growing market.

Who are the uninsured?

When examining the 2019 enrollment survey by the National Association of Dental Plans, two qualities emerge when looking at the average uninsured individual.

First, people without dental insurance tend to be older than the average American, with an average age of 53.

Second, the uninsured are more likely to be women. Women make up 66% of the uninsured population in America.

Beyond that, the uninsured are a fairly diverse group.

  • Compared to the general population, the uninsured are less likely to be working full-time, with 40% employed and 40% retired. The remaining 20% are unemployed or not working by choice.
  • The uninsured are more likely to be non-Hispanic whites than the general population, at nearly 80% compared to 60.7% of the general population.
  • More than a quarter have children under age 26 at home. Over 40% of the general population has children in this age group at home, so the uninsured are less likely to have children at home than the general population.
  • Overall, just over 50% of Americans over 25 have a bachelor's degree or higher. More than half have a college education. The gap between the uninsured and the general population is minimal here.
  • More than half of the uninsured are married or in a domestic partnership. Fewer than a quarter are single, and the remainder is divorced or widowed.

Why don't people have dental insurance?

One reason the uninsured don't have coverage may be due to the group's high average age. They may be retired or reliant on Medicare for insurance; only Medicare C plans may cover dental. For these individuals, remind them of the low monthly cost of premiums and help them see that dental coverage is both affordable on a fixed income and easy to access.

There may also be a general lack of information, particularly among retired or jobless people who don't have a benefits administrator to curate plans. 

Some of the uninsured may have chosen not to have dental insurance, especially if they've been looking to cut costs due to changes in their employment status. Over the past year, 39% of Americans reduced or eliminated their insurance for financial reasons. Of those furloughed or laid off because of COVID-19, this number jumps to 65%.

Common reasons are given for choosing not to have insurance include:

  • "My oral health is already good, and I don't need to visit the dentist."
  • "Dental insurance isn't worth the money. I'd rather pay out of pocket."
  • "I don't have insurance because I use a flex spending or health savings account to cover costs."
  • "The dentist I see isn't in the insurance network anyway."

Sharing information about the benefits even during economic uncertainty and the coronavirus pandemic may help persuade these individuals. You can also remind them that having insurance can be worthwhile because it makes it easier to keep dependents covered, including some adult children. For more information about Dental insurance contact Songer Benefits.