Healthcare Reform

The recent passage of the healthcare reform bill includes provisions that will require adjustments for all of the players in the industry—insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare providers, and medical device companies like 3M ESPE. Beginning in 2013, all Class II medical devices (a category which includes the vast majority of dental consumable products) will be subject to a 2.3 percent excise tax. Obviously, the economics of this policy are complex, controversial and likely will not be fully understood for some time. However, in the long term, it appears that the additional emphasis that will be placed on preventive services is something that the dental community can be pleased about.

We acquired a preventive company in 2006 and since then have been increasingly involved in efforts like CAMBRA, which uses caries risk assessment to help guide dental professionals in their recommendations to patients. As I noted very recently on this blog, caries remains rampant in young Americans, and it affects more than 90 percent of adults as well.[i] The fact that this disease is such an issue even in the most developed country in the world means that we all have more work to do. Therefore, I think that the preventive aspect of healthcare reform is beneficial.

Ultimately, dentistry’s purpose is to help patients maintain healthy teeth throughout their lives. With an increased focus on preventive care, this legislation will hopefully lay the groundwork to help the dental community achieve this goal.


[i] Glick M. A job well done, but still a long way to go. J Am Dent Assoc. 2005 Nov; 136(11): 1506, 1508.

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