Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Dental Care Shortage in the Far West

September 30, 2020 data from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), reveals that nearly 60 million Americans lived in a designated dental care Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA). In the case of dental care, an HPSA is a geographic area, population group, or facility where access to dental care is substandard because it lacks a sufficient number of dental care providers. An HRSA dental care shortage designation is based upon the population within the HPSA relative to the number of dental care providers that service the area. For HRSA purposes, dental care providers include Dentists and dental auxiliaries (any non-dentist staff employed by the dentist to assist in the operation of the practice). Although the population-to-provider ratio needed to qualify for designation varies by HPSA type (geographic, population or facility), all HPSAs with a dental care shortage designation have a population-to-provider ratio that meets or exceeds certain thresholds set by federal regulations. More than 6,400 areas or settings have been designated by the HRSA as having a dental care shortage. Areas so designated by the HRSA are eligible to participate in federal programs aimed at attracting more dental care providers to work in these medically underserved communities. The HRSA estimates that, as of September 30, 2020, all dental care HPSAs in the U.S. would need about 10,700 more dental care providers to eliminate all shortage designations.

HPSAs in the six-state Far West region account for about 9.2% of the U.S. population who live in dental care shortage areas.  The HRSA estimates that HPSAs in the Far West states would need just over 1,000 more dental care providers in order to eliminate the dental care shortage in the region.  Here is a summary look at the dental care shortage in the Far West region of the United States:

The Dental Care Shortage in the Far West
The Dental Care Shortage in the Far West

State (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
AK 298 195.6 35
CA 473 1,296.3 247
HI 33 154.5 21
NV 67 877.7 152
OR 129 1,079.0 208
WA 173 1,918.9 353
Region 1,173 5,522.0 1,016
U.S. 6,487 59,941.1 10,716

(1) Designated Geographic, Population Group and Facility HPSAs with a dental care shortage
(2) Population of designated HPSAs, in thousands
(3) Dental Care practitioners needed to remove HPSA Designation

Source:  Designated HPSA Quarterly Summary, 9/30/20 (HRSA)