An Oral Health Benefit in Medicare Part B: It’s Time to Include Oral Health in Health Care.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program created in 1965 for people ages 65 and over, regardless of income, medical history or health status. The program was later expanded to cover certain persons with disabilities who are under age 65, as well as individuals who have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Today, Medicare plays a key role in providing health and financial security to 59 million older people and people with disabilities. Yet, the oral health status of the Medicare population and its ability to afford and access oral health care are issues of serious concern that must be addressed.

Many people lose their dental insurance when they retire, and traditional Medicare does not include coverage for routine oral health care like checkups, cleanings, and x-rays, or restorative procedures (fillings, crowns, bridges and root canals), tooth extractions and dentures. While some Medicare beneficiaries may be able to obtain dental coverage through other sources such as private Medicare Advantage plans, employer-sponsored retiree health plans or individually-purchased dental plans, the scope of dental benefits varies widely across plans. Persons with low income may qualify for Medicaid in addition to Medicare, but whether Medicaid will provide oral health coverage at all and the scope of that coverage varies widely across the country, depending on individual state Medicaid policies.

– Oral Health America

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