Can’t afford myofunctional therapy, orthodontic appliance alternatives, and bodywork in managing your airway centered disorder? You are likely not alone. The gap of inequity, especially among minorities and low income households in affordable options and access to care is increasing. One of the many silent consequences of this global pandemic.
Health care is continuously evolving and with new innovations people are living longer, healthier lives. Traditional wait and see or palliative care and management of airway centered disorders are now replaced with preventive healthcare alternatives. Access to that healthcare has become a national issue, with affordability being the largest barrier. In 2018 a woman in Boston was exiting a subway train car and while traumatized bystanders offered to help and she pleaded against that because she could not afford the ambulance. Unfortunately, with healthcare costs, and the amount of uninsured/under-insured on the rise, it is increasingly apparent that airway health treatment is a privilege.
Minorities and those on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale often get a raw deal as dental insurance covers a negligible portion of many popular orthotropic appliances. Medicaid and medicare are also rarely accepted at medical and dental facilities that screen and treat airway centered disorders. 33% of households with a healthcare treatment need are reportedly likely to delay even serious needs due to cost.
“Studies repeatedly demonstrate that uninsured people are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.”Kaiser Family Foundation
If you are new to this blog, you may be unaware, but airway centered disorders involve a complex airway problem that impacts breathing. Poor breathing, especially during sleep, increases the risk of sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, reflux, and many other health concerns. In children, mouth breathing can create a lasting negative impact on childhood growth and craniofacial development.
It takes a team of interdisciplinary healthcare providers to successfully address the many manifestations of an airway centered disorder. A dentist to address crowded, misaligned teeth, and gum disease. An ENT to address ear infections, tongue ties, deviated septum, swollen tonsils and adenoids. A cranioscral therapist, osteopath, or other body worker to assist in relieving fascial tension. A speech therapist, occupational therapist, or physical therapist to address any feeding, speech, sensory, or motor problems. Last, but not least, a myofunctional therapist to address the oral function compensations and dysfunction. (*This is not an all encompassing list of each provider’s role in airway management. Each provider plays an integral role in managing various aspects of possible presentations of symptoms.)
The cost of myofunctional therapy varies between providers and mediums, and is rarely covered by insurance. Leaving many who have happened upon this little known therapy with the bulk of the cost for this one of many services necessary for optimal outcomes.
Increasing the concern is the reality that less than 1% of eligible healthcare professionals have been informed, properly educated and made capable of adequately treating airway centered disorders. For a dentist, physician, dental hygienist or speech language pathologist to obtain this information and specialize in airway and sleep alternative health modalities the cost is disproportionately larger than other continuing education or professional studies. Practitioners who do absorb the costs of training and education are likely to not currently practice in low income areas. Thereby impacting the scale of inequality in access to alternative possibilities of long term solutions.
Low income households and minorities are not less likely to need the service, in some instances they are more prone. In one study it was found that Chinese and Hispanic populations have a higher prevalence of sleep apnea. African Americans are typically diagnosed in late stages of sleep apnea, experience higher rates of CPAP intolerance, and in children surgical removal of tonsils is a less successful treatment. Those of lower socioeconomic economy status “more often engage in health-risk behaviors in general, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, poor diet, and poor self-management of disease (i.e., poor acceptance and adherence to chronic treatments.”
Improving access and treatment affordability is primary concern to some providers. Sliding scale fees and charity care options are available, though much searching and effort is required to source those practices. The recent downturn of the economy and disproportionate impact on minority households, will ideally prompt a restructuring of national healthcare.
In the interim those in need of myofunctional therapy services during shelter-in-place and while children are home and symptoms becoming more apparent, are encouraged to explore affordable alternatives. Alternatives designed by this professional who entered the field due to inability to afford treatment for my own family. In a complex dynamic between educating myself and paying others to service my children, it became apparent that education was more affordable. Without my professional credentials it would not have been an option and for this privilege I extend the following options to those who’s need exceed their means.
- Mommy Made Myo
- Mommy Made Myo’s mission is to expand access of quality care and options through a community environment that promotes positive growth while educating and nurturing other in their path to improved breathing and overall health. Through this mission we envision a world free of traditional barriers to care for parents whose children struggle with airway centered disorders.
- You’re Breathing Wrong
- We offer two books that have a FULL program that leads you page by page to results similar to one-on-one treatment. Myofunctional Therapy Made Better is an e-book available on Amazon with a 21-day guided program. You’re Breathing Wrong is a physical paperback journal available on Amazon with a 10-week guided program.
Accessibility will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future. However we can combat that by working together. Educate yourself on all your options and share new things you learn with others to expand public knowledge. The more we know as a collective, the less we can be held down by the restraint of lack of information.
The budget you have available to address all of your needs when treating Airway Centered Disorder is also an essential consideration. A team approach is often required and if your budget is tight, consider working with one member of the team at a time if applicable, or delaying treatment while you save. Alternatively, consider working independently if you have no sensory issues or difficulty learning without physical instruction.
Regardless of which methods or providers you choose, ensure you make the decision to seek treatment you need in a manner that serves you and your budget appropriately.