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Health Policy Paper: Access to Care

This paper outlines a policy developed for a purpose to improve the wellbeing and health of the eligible population and address a common health issue. The policy is designed in order to provide quality care to the underserved and vulnerable individuals. The target group of the population covered by this policy was selected based on the prior research which is also explained in this paper. Differently put, the present report provides a detailed description of the measures that should be in place so that the eligible population had an opportunity to enjoy better dental care and quality services. Also, the report presents the basis for the designed policy and an explanation why a certain group of the population was selected as the target clients and which problems the policy will attempt to solve.

According to the research conducted by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) (n. d.), a large portion of the American population is exposed to multiple dental health threats, this particularly refers to the younger and middle-aged populations. Also, the American Dental Association (ADA) (2016) identified that two-thirds of the American population, in general, tend to request dental services on a regular basis which indicates that the overall demand for the dental care is rather high. However, when it comes to the remaining one-third of the American population, it tends to experience the need for the services that is unfulfilled (ADA, 2016). That way, the size of the underserved population is very large; namely, it is comprised of about one hundred million people who cannot afford dental care by are in need of it. This group of people includes the elderly individuals, people with disabilities, ethnic and racial minorities, and the economically disadvantaged people – all of these communities face challenges trying to access dental care (ADA, 2016). As a result, a policy is required in order to address the needs of the abovementioned populations and ensure that they are able to access dental services as soon as they are required. This change would produce a significant positive effect on the quality of life of these people and prevent more complicated and dangerous conditions that may occur due to the lack of dental care.

Discussing the ways to approach the issue, Guay (2004) emphasized that the problem is complex and multidimensional, and that is why a quick and simple solution would be impossible to find. The author also specified that in order to understand the issue of the access to care, one needs to research each of the vulnerable and underserved segments of the American population and determine the exact barriers that prevent it from getting timely and appropriate dental care (Guay, 2004). Based on the research data, a policy can be designed that creates better opportunities for the target population groups.

The target population selected for this policy is the financially disadvantaged sector that involves the individuals and families of various racial and ethnic background, gender, and age. As outlined by CDA (California Dental Association) (2012), the primary barriers to the access to care for the low-income groups include the skills shortage and understaffing of the institutions involved and the absence of the dental care coverage for those who are not eligible for Medicaid program. Since the attraction of more professionals to the field and addressing the skills shortage is not going to make a difference for the financially challenged segment of the population, the policy is to target the access to care for the individuals who are unable to afford it or visit the dentists due to their conditions.

Policy Description

Volunteering and Mobile Dental Centers

The teams of volunteers are to be assembled for the provision of the primary dental services in the low-income districts. The volunteers may include the medical and nursing students, social workers, and nursing and medical practitioners wiling to contribute.

The teams should be equipped with the technologies that can be operated outside of the medical facilities. The teams would be moving around the area along with the mobile dental centers.

Prior to the arrival of the mobile center, the population of the area is to be informed and educated about the program and the services it includes and that they are delivered by the volunteers and would be provided for free.

The teams of professionals and students should be equipped to deliver some of the basic dental procedures such as checkups, screenings, and tests. The cases of dangerous and serious conditions should be sent to the medical facilities.

The funding is required for the provision of the emergency services and care for the patients with serious dental conditions.

The services of the mobile dental centers and volunteers should target people of all ages

Dental Health Literacy Improvement

The volunteers traveling along with the mobile medical centers should be able to deliver the basic education as to the dental hygiene, the necessary procedures, why they are important, and how they should be conducted.

The adult population should be able to consult the volunteers about the acquisition of the dental care, the available opportunities, coverage options, prices of services, and the procedures that are more important and essential than others.

Besides, the schools of the low-income areas should be reached independently within the framework of the policy that focuses on the improvement of health literacy of the school children.

The education should be delivered by the volunteers, students, or the medical and nursing practitioners starting with the preschool classrooms and up to the high-school seniors. The materials for the lessons should be developed specifically for each age group and be appropriate for the comprehension of the young and adolescent learners.

Fluoridation

The drinking water in the area is to be enriched with fluoride so that the residents could benefit from it in terms of dental care.

Survey

Along with the delivery of the oral health services, the volunteers should survey the low-income population and inquire about the primary barriers that prevent these people from getting dental care. The data would be collected based on a standardized questionnaire with an option of the addition of reasons and barriers. The collected information would provide a basis necessary for the future policy-making.

Conclusion

The proposed policy is designed to target multiple dimensions of the lack of access to dental health care. It attempts to address the existing problems of the low-income population that is underserved, as well as to ensure upstream approach towards the possible future problems through the delivery of education and the improvement of the oral health literacy. In addition, the proposed policy involves the data collection in a form of a survey that will allow the policy-makers to see the existing challenges to the dental care access among the financially disadvantaged population in order to be able to address the problem in the future.

References

ADA. (2016). Access to Care. Web.

CDA. (2012). Phased Strategies for Reducing the Barriers to Dental Care in California. Web.

Guay, A. H. (2004). Access to dental Care: Solving the problem for underserved population. JADA, 135, 1599-1605.

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (n.d.) Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General (Executive Summary). Web.

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