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Medicine and Social JusticeEssays on the Distribution of Health Care$
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Rosamond Rhodes, Margaret Battin, and Anita Silvers

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199744206

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199744206.001.0001

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Oral and Mental Health Services

Oral and Mental Health Services

(p.401) 33 Oral and Mental Health Services
Medicine and Social Justice

David Ozar

James Sabin

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the ways in which access to oral and mental health care falls short of patients’ needs. It shows how public attitudes and the structure of U.S. insurance programs have created systematic access barriers to oral and mental health care. It argues that some aspects of oral and mental health care are as deserving of the special importance accorded to much of medical/surgical care in our society. It also considers patterns that arguably explain the selective disadvantaging of access to oral and mental health care so that the injustices associated with the disparate treatment may be rectified. Neither private nor public health insurance coverage typically offers individuals with mental or dental pathologies the same benefits of mitigation or cure that are offered to people with acute physical health illness or injury. The chapter suggests that insurers should respond to dental and mental health needs on a par with others and hypothesizes why these health needs are assigned lower priority. Finally, it discusses the importance of good dental and mental health while highlighting the consequences of depriving people of treatment for dental and mental health needs.

Keywords:   oral care, mental health care, mental health, health care, health insurance

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