Adding a Dental Benefit to Medicare

From Justice in Aging: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Medicare is the primary source of health coverage for older adults and people under 65 with disabilities. Yet, Medicare explicitly excludes coverage for most dental services.

Consequently, nearly half of all Medicare enrollees did not see a dentist in the past year.
Without access to treatment, Medicare enrollees experience significant adverse health outcomes, with certain populations being disproportionately harmed.

In this paper, we examine how adding a dental benefit to Medicare would reduce disparities in access to care and oral health outcomes for adults with disabilities under 65. The paper begins with a description of Medicare enrollees under 65 with disabilities, followed by an overview of the disparities in access to oral health coverage, services, and outcomes based on disability. Next, we examine how adding a dental benefit to Medicare would help to reduce those disparities and resulting oral health inequity. We conclude with additional policy proposals to address systemic
barriers people with disabilities face in trying to access oral health care.

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