-Kool Smiles' Medicaid Patients receive necessary care when no reimbursement is available-
ATLANTA, July 31, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kool Smiles, a leading provider of quality dental care in underserved communities nationwide, today announced a record amount of uncompensated (free) dental care provided by its affiliated dentists above and beyond services covered by Medicaid and state insurance programs. With already over $10 million in additional dental care provided as of June 2013, the network of Kool Smiles offices is on track to exceed the $18.5 million provided last year, firmly establishing Kool Smiles as a safety net for dental care in the United States.
"Kool Smiles was founded on the belief that every person deserves access to a dentist," said Dr. Polly Boehnlein, Kool Smiles Managing Dental Director and a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist. "As part of our mission of providing quality care to underserved populations, our dedicated dentists often go beyond the call of duty with their time and our resources by caring for those who otherwise would not be able to afford coverage beyond their Medicaid plans."
Kool Smiles dentists determine on a case-by-case basis additional uncompensated (free) care needed for low income patients.
"We're proud that by providing additional free care, when and where we can for dental care not covered by Medicaid or other insurance programs, we are able to fulfill our mission of providing high-quality dental care to communities that are often overlooked or are otherwise underserved," Dr. Boehnlein continued.
Founded in 2002, Kool Smiles has 130 affiliated dental practices across 15 states and the District of Columbia, primarily in underserved communities that have historically lacked sufficient providers for the Medicaid patient population. As recently as January 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that approximately 45 million Americans live in "shortage areas." According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), approximately 80 percent of dentists do not accept patients with Medicaid or State Children's Health Insurance Plans (SCHIP), citing, among other reasons, low reimbursement for their services. Kool Smiles helps provide a safety net for these patients, with approximately 80-90 percent of its patient population consisting of Medicaid or SCHIP enrollees.
According to the Pew Center's 2013 report, In Search Of Dental Care, each year in the United States tens of millions of children – disproportionately low-income – go without seeing a dentist. A Pew Center 2011 report on the state of children's dental health also cites research showing children who do not receive dental care miss a significant number of school days, use costly emergency room services more often and encounter worsened job prospects as adults, compared with their peers who have access to care.
"Although we do accept Medicaid and other insurance plans that most dentists do not, we also recognize that there are specific procedures that the ADA or AAPD recommend that are not covered by Medicaid or state programs," said Dr. Boehnlein. "Recognizing that families who go without access to these treatments can face lifelong struggles and health problems, we feel it is our moral and professional obligation to also provide these recommended services for free when a patient's case calls for it, thereby increasing the number of healthy, happy smiles in the U.S."
In addition to completing uncompensated procedures for Medicaid patients, in certain situations Kool Smiles dentists provide services for the uninsured. Nicole Aguilar, a mother of three from El Paso, TX, never thought she'd have to worry about obtaining dental care for her family until she learned her mother no longer had insurance coverage. Her mother, Irma Gallegos, is battling leukemia and needed a dental examination and X-rays before undergoing a bone marrow transplant.
"My mother was no longer receiving a paycheck and her benefits had expired. Medicaid did not cover her dental costs," Aguilar explained.
For the past three years, Aguilar has taken her three daughters to the Kool Smiles Lee Trevino office in El Paso.
"Everyone there is so wonderful and the service has always been outstanding. I know they also see adults, so I tried my luck. I emailed Kool Smiles and asked if they would also help my mother," Aguilar said.
"The next day, the regional dental director called me to schedule my mother's appointment for later in the week. They performed an exam, X-rays and an extraction for my mother free of charge. I was so overwhelmed by the generosity that I burst into tears. Kool Smiles helped my mother get one step closer on her journey to recovery, and I was so grateful that someone was willing to help."
Kool Smiles dental professionals also give back to local communities through partnerships with schools and organizations. "We recognize that restorative care is one of the last, least effective options to solving the oral health crisis in America," said Dr. Boehnlein. "That's why we also invest a significant amount of our time and resources to community programs that provide dental health education and teach preventative healthcare."
Kool Smiles expects to exceed their 2012 record of additional dental care services and reach $20 million forecasted through 2013.
About Kool Smiles
Kool Smiles is dedicated to creating a world of happy, healthy smiles. As a leading dental health provider, Kool Smiles' mission is to improve lives by providing high quality dental care in a fun, compassionate environment. Kool Smiles' dentists are proud to offer care to kids and adults with almost any insurance plan, including State Children's Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), Medicaid and Tricare. Kool Smiles encourages patients to discuss options with their dentist and offers a Patient Bill of Rights to all patients. Kool Smiles also provides oral health education programs through partnerships with community schools and organizations. For more information, please visit www.mykoolsmiles.com or facebook.com/mykoolsmiles.
SOURCE Kool Smiles