Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Dental Care Shortage in the Southeast

According to September 30, 2020 data published by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), about 60 million Americans lived in areas or settings designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) for dental care. An HPSA is a geographic area, population group, or facility where access to healthcare services is substandard because it lacks a sufficient number of primary care, dental or mental health care providers. In the case of dental care, HRSA designation criteria 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. Close to 6,500 areas or settings in the U.S. have received an HRSA designation as a dental care shortage area. Areas so designated by the HRSA are eligible to participate in federal programs aimed at attracting more dental care providers to practice in these medically underserved areas. As of September 30, 2020, the HRSA estimates that all HPSAs in the U.S. with a dental care shortage would need about 10,700 more dental care providers to eliminate all shortage designations.

HPSAs in the twelve-state Southeast region account for about 41.2% of the U.S. population who live in dental care shortage areas.  The HRSA estimates that HPSAs in Southeast would need just over 4,500 more dental care providers in order to eliminate the dental care shortage in the region.  Here is a closer look at the dental care shortage in the Southeast:

The Dental Care Shortage in the Southeast
The Dental Care Shortage in the Southeast

State (1) HPSAs (2) Population (3) Shortage
AL 81 1,828.6 376
AR 85 619.5 101
FL 256 5,921.5 1,320
GA 181 2,010.7 393
KY 140 638.9 128
LA 148 2,148.5 252
MS 145 1,801.4 248
NC 190 3,439.9 713
SC 90 1,867.4 264
TN 146 2,367.9 426
VA 97 1,300.1 173
WV 104 725.4 135
Region 1,663 24,669.8 4,529
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)