Health News Roundup

Dentists offering membership plans, and more in this week’s roundup

To get these headlines delivered to your inbox every week, sign up for our weekly health news roundup.

Dentists chip away at uninsured problem by offering patients membership plans
Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, Sept. 17
With millions of Americans lacking dental coverage, some dentist’s offices are now offering membership plans, especially for preventative care. A 2021 American Dental Association survey of 70,000 dentists revealed that roughly a quarter of dentists nationwide offer memberships to care. Many of the plans offered mimic dental insurance, but don’t come with an annual deductible or waiting period. But advocates caution that this may not make care truly affordable for many who currently lack dental coverage.

Bethany Mollenkof, STAT News, Sept. 21
Rural health infrastructure in the South was strained even before the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating inequities in health care. A new photo project documents the pandemic’s profound impact on Black life in the rural South. It captures the effects of these inequities but also highlights communities’ strength in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Children and adolescents struggling with pandemic’s mental health fallout
Jenifer Frank, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, Sept. 20
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused nearly every family to have a ‘pandemic story’ that can largely be summarized by anxiety and loss. Although children are naturally resilient and adaptive, they have experienced serious loss alongside ongoing uncertainty. Behavioral health providers across the state have seen sharp increases in the number of families seeking treatment, aided by access to telehealth.

The days of full COVID coverage are over. Insurers are restoring deductibles and co-pays, leaving patients with the big bills.
Christopher Rowland, The Washington Post, Sept. 18
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S., insurance companies waived 100% of the costs for treatment. However, this year, most insurers have reinstated co-pays and deductibles for COVID treatment. As a result, the financial burden is falling unevenly on patients across the country, varying widely by health care plan and geography.

The bias that blinds: why some people get dangerously different medical care
Jessica Nordel, The Guardian, Sept. 21
Bias from health care professionals and exclusion from medical research are among the reasons that people of color, women, and transgender people may receive vastly different medical care. Possible solutions include implementing practices such as checklists or structured decision-making tools that rely on official criteria to help remove the tendency to rely on assumptions or preconceptions.