Why Do Some Dentists Refuse to Take Medicaid?

Some dentists refuse to take Medicaid because they say the program fails to cover their costs and they experience problems with the bureaucracy, according to PennLive.com. Other dentists believe that Medicaid patients are not dependable when it comes to keeping their appointments. Many dentists prefer giving services through free clinics.

Some dentists avoid the Medicaid program shortcomings by treating small numbers of poor patients for free, reports PennLive.com. A dental association in Pennsylvania promotes the Take Five program to encourage each dentist to treat five Medicaid families. As of 2015, less than 33 percent of Pennsylvania dentists accept Medicaid, a state and federal program also called medical assistance, according to PennLive.com. The state has improved its administrative process so that it no longer takes up to nine months to approve dentists to participate in the Medicaid program.

Other reasons that dentists give for refusing to accept Medicaid is that the system is underfunded; the program does not measure goals properly and addresses errors in unreasonable ways; and patients are ungrateful, according to The Wealthy Dentist. About 69 percent of urban and 70 percent of suburban dentists who responded to a survey stated they do not accept Medicaid payments. Approximately 38 percent of the respondents with practices in rural areas said they do not accept the program payments.