SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Gary Herbert on Monday signed Senate Concurrent Resolution 4, which expresses support and gratitude for the efforts of the Regence Caring Foundation for Children in providing dental care to children from families who do not qualify for government assistance but cannot afford dental insurance.
The resolution urges Utahns to learn more how to help those without dental insurance.
The sponsor of the legislation was Sen. Patricia Jones (D-Holladay), during the legislative review of SCR 4, consistently cited a media report from September of 2009 which indicated that a lack of access to dental care for low-income families in Utah had reached a “crisis” point and that, not surprisingly, children are suffering the most.
“This resolution provides a reminder to Utahns that dental health, especially for our children, is a priority,” said Jones, who serves on the Regence Caring Foundation Board of Directors.
Scott Ideson, president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, the company that has administered the Caring Foundation since 1992, said “dental care for our state’s low-income children is essential – especially when our economy is suffering along with the rest of the nation.”
Statistics compiled by the Utah Department of Health and the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that 21.4 percent of Utah children had untreated cavities, 25 percent had no dental insurance and more than 133,000 were living in poverty. Of those, about 60,000 had no dental insurance.
“Lack of dental care can lead to significant health problems down the road,” said Ideson, who indicated that last year alone the Foundation provided free dental services to 1,556 Utah children. “We firmly believe that every child should have a chance to smile.”
Jarom and Trudy Killian of Orem have had three children enrolled in the program over the last few years.
“It’s been absolutely perfect,” Trudy Killian said. “My husband is self-employed and as a family, we can’t afford dental insurance.”
To qualify for the program, children must meet certain guidelines: the family’s income must be less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, children must be 17 years of age or younger and attend school and they cannot be enrolled in a private or government-sponsored health insurance plan such as Medicaid or CHIP.
Once children are enrolled, however, they receive covered dental services at no charge to the family. Treatment includes an initial comprehensive oral exam and follow-up exam, along with x-rays, cleanings, root canals and more.
“When kids get a toothache they can’t seem to function in a normal way because there is so much pain,” Killian said. “They just can’t concentrate, but with the Caring Foundation, now it’s something that we don’t have to worry about.”
“We’re honored that Gov. Herbert and the Utah legislature would consider a resolution committed to the oral health of our children,” Ideson said.
About the Regence Caring Foundation for Children
The Regence Caring Foundation for Children is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization sponsored and administered by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah. Regence continues its proud tradition of donating all of the Regence Caring Foundation for Children’s general administrative expenses, allowing 100 percent of profits from fundraising events and other donations to provide free dental care services to children. The Foundation provides services to low-income children in Utah whose families cannot afford private coverage and receive no government assistance. The dental care provided helps children avoid problems stemming from untreated oral disease, including school absenteeism, needless weight loss, unnecessary and costly emergency room visits and life-threatening infections. For further information, please contact Kathleen Pitcher Tobey, executive director, at (801) 333-5575. You may also visit our Web site at: www.caringfoundationforchildren.org.
About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah is a leading health plan in Utah, with more than 400,000 members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, serving more than 2.5 million members as Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon and Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington). Each plan is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit www.regence.com or www.regence.com/RegenceUtah.