Alabama Dental Clinic Offers Affordable Care for the Underprivileged

Tens of thousands of Alabamians who were once unable to afford trips to the dentist’s office now have access to the dental care they need — and it’s largely thanks to the work of one man.

According to Forbes, Jeffrey Parker, CEO of Sarrell Dental Centers, has turned this group of dental practices into Alabama’s leading provider of dental care to patients on Medicaid since taking the reins 11 years ago.

In fact, more than 175,000 poor and underprivileged Alabama families now seek dental care at Sarrell Dental Centers’ 17 locations. The nonprofit dental group’s practices “are eliminating cavities among some of the poorest children in the poorest counties in one of America’s poorest states,” Parker said.

Currently, a mere 32% of dentists nationwide accept patients on Medicaid, a federal program that helps the poor afford dental and medical care, because the government reimburses dentists with less money than they would earn in a private practice. By accepting Medicaid patients, however, Sarrell Dental Centers has become a huge success, bringing in $17 million in annual revenues.

When approximately 75% of people have reported feeling an unattractive smile could harm their chances for a successful career, proper dental care is especially important for middle- and lower-class Americans. However, many people forego dental treatment due to its high costs.

Sarrell Dental Centers’ business model is thus an undoubted advantage to Alabama residents who lack access to dental care — such as retirees in Mobile, whose new Humana coverage won’t extend to dental or optical services.

According to a Sept. 2 article, Mobile’s city council unanimously voted to replace 775 retirees’ city health plans with new plans under Humana Inc. While the city will save $1.5 million in doing so, retirees will no longer have dental or optical care under their new Humana plans, which will be implemented Jan. 1, 2016.

Given their new lack of dental coverage, finding more affordable dental care will soon become a priority for these seniors — and Sarrell Dental Centers might just be the place where they find it.