As politicians prepare for their presidential candidacies in 2020, a growing number of them are pushing for universal healthcare. Bernie Sanders was the first major presidential candidate to introduce a single payer healthcare plan. He released his Medicare for All bill and spending forecasts just hours before one of his debates. A growing number of other presidential hopefuls have picked up on this proposal. Medicare for All has been endorsed by over half a dozen Democratic candidates so far. Now that they are starting to make progress towards introducing a socialized healthcare bill, we are going to have to have frank discussions about the range of services that it will cover and the amount of money people are willing to pay for it. One of the issues that needs to be discussed is whether the system should cover cosmetic dentistry services. The cosmetic dentistry industry generated $16 billion in revenue in 2015 alone. This figure would presumably be much higher under a socialized healthcare policy, which makes people wonder if it would be worth it. In fact, we will need to decide whether any dentistry services should be covered under a socialist healthcare plan.
Will private insurance plans need to cover cosmetic dentistry under a universal healthcare plan?
The most recent Medicare for All policies would cover dentistry benefits. However, recent analysis of the costs of this proposal suggest that might not be possible. As they make a more concerted push for universal healthcare, politicians are going to need to discuss the range of benefits and limitations of what will be covered. Economists estimate at the cost of Medicare for All will be around $32 trillion. Although single payer advocates have been claiming that people will pay less for a socialized healthcare system than they currently pay for private insurance, recent research on the topic shows otherwise. According to a study by Kenneth Thorpe, 81% of working Americans would pay more for healthcare under the plan that Bernie Sanders submitted in 2016. The most recent study from the Mercatus Institute showed that a more recent version of the plan would require a 30% payroll tax or 67% national sales tax. The harsh reality is that most people will not save money under Medicare for All, unless the spectrum of covered services is paired down. This likely means that paying for cosmetic dentistry services is not going to be an option. However, according to Build Your Smile, there are some compelling reasons that it will be a good idea to include cosmetic dentistry, if that is at all possible. Cosmetic dentistry would help some people escape poverty Life is not fair for many people in the workforce. Physically unattractive people are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding jobs. As a result, they often get stuck in poverty. Dental problems are one of the biggest causes of aesthetic issues. Getting dental issues fixed can help people look better and have a better chance at getting a job. Alleviating depression Many medical issues feed into each other. People with depression are going to suffer more if they also have physical defects. Bad teeth may make them feel self-conscious, which worsens their depression. Some functional issues are often dismissed as cosmetic Some dental problems might be dismissed as cosmetic. However, they might actually contribute to other more serious health problems. An underbite might not look right, but it could also make it much more difficult for people to chew food. This can place a lot of stress on the jaw and cause TMJ disorders.
Cosmetic dentistry can make a big impact on a person’s life. It’s definitely worth considering whether universal healthcare systems should cover it more often.