National Study Reveals Rising Costs and Lack of Price Transparency Causing 150 Million Uninsured to Miss Recommended Dental Care Brighter.com Survey Reveals Why More than 50% of all Americans Avoid the Dentist, Prompting Nationwide Concern for Oral Health

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Aug. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Brighter.com, the recently launched online consumer resource that makes quality dental care accessible and affordable, announced the results of its 2011 Survey of Dental Care Affordability and Accessibility that examined the systemic problem facing consumer dental care today.  

Current statistics show that nearly 50 percent of Americans lack dental insurance, a figure that is rising due to cut-backs in employee benefits, rising insurance premiums and the retirement of baby boomers. The survey revealed that those who lack dental insurance cite high cost as number one reason for delaying dental care followed by a total lack of price transparency.  

The nationally representative survey of 1,000 people was conducted for Brighter.com by Empirica Research in conjunction with Dr. David Neal, Professor at the University of Southern California.

Key findings indicate:

  • 74% of respondents say they only visit the dentist when they believe there is a problem, skipping needed preventative care visits
  • Nearly one third of Americans without dental coverage say they have been to the dentist "only once" or "not at all" in the last 10 years
  • 73% of those without dental coverage have delayed regular dental care because they were unsure of actual costs

"We knew uninsured consumers were not keeping up with the recommended levels of dental care, but did not expect to discover a significant percentage of the population not receiving basic preventative care due to high costs," said Jake Winebaum, founder and chief executive officer, Brighter.com. "Accessibility and affordability of dental care is a critical issue for many Americans, and remains a key goal for Brighter."

The study indicates only 26 percent of those who are uninsured get preventative care, compared to 68 percent for those with a dental insurance plan. The lack of regular preventative care can lead to not only poor long-term dental health and high deferred costs, but to major diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as shown in several recent studies.

Despite the American Dental Association's recommendation that Americans should visit the dentist one to two times a year, results of the Brighter.com study demonstrate there is a 'silent epidemic' of deferred maintenance that continues to grow.  Other key survey findings include:

  • 47% of parents without dental coverage report that they delay their children's regular dental check-ups due to high costs
  • Only 1 in 4 without dental coverage follow the recommended number of visits; and most go only once every three years
  • Almost 1 in 3 retired Americans say they probably won't go to the dentist in the next 5 years due to high costs
  • Those without dental coverage are almost 5 times more likely than those with coverage to rate their teeth and gums as "very unhealthy"

"Poor dental health is a silent epidemic in the U.S. and a trigger for serious health problems," says Professor David Neal, Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California. "The survey highlights that dramatic disparities in access to quality, affordable dental care persist in the U.S. today with significant results showing high costs as the strongest factors keeping people from the dentist's chair."

Brighter aims to lift the financial burden each dental visit may bring by offering pre-negotiated prices on all major dental procedures at 25,000 dentists nationwide (nearly a quarter of all practicing dentists).

Brighter discounts are 20-60 percent lower than the prices that an uninsured patient would typically pay when visiting their dentist. The online resource also provides Yelp and real patient reviews from its members to help identify top-rated dentists and ones that best suit the patient's specific needs.  

Survey Methodology

The research was conducted by the international research firm EmpiricaResearch.com.au in conjunction with Dr. David Neal, Professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California.

The study surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 American adults via an online panel provided by GMR International. The survey was conducted from May 5 - May 9, 2011. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to ensure sample demographics that match the US population defined by the latest Census data.

For full survey results, please log into to: www.Brighter.com/survey. For more information on Brighter, please visit www.Brighter.com.

About Brighter.com

Brighter makes quality dental care affordable to the 50 percent of Americans without dental insurance. Dental costs and dental insurance premiums have risen so fast that the majority of the population cannot afford to go to the dentist for the preventative and restorative care that they need. Brighter.com is the first website that allows consumers to compare dentists by reputation and by price. Patients can see the true cost of dental procedures before they visit the dentist, and with Brighter's network of 25,000 dentists nationwide Brighter members can save 20 percent-60 percent on all their dental procedures. www.brighter.com

About Empirica

Empirica Research is an international consumer and social research firm based in Australia and the United States. Empirica conducts traditional market research and also specializes in sophisticated collaborations with academics in psychology, marketing, and health behavior. For more information: www.empiricaresearch.com.au  

SOURCE Brighter.com



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