Policy Options for Improving Dental Coverage for People on Medicare was published by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) on September 18th, to provide information and guide discussion on potential ways to make oral health care more available and affordable for the Medicare population. As Medicare currently does not cover routine dental care, many stakeholders have highlighted the issue within the broader debate surrounding health care system reform. The options identified in the brief range from adding a new dental benefit under Medicare to providing for more incremental change and having less of an impact on the federal budget and current Medicare program.
Specifically, the brief examines the following options:
- Adding a dental benefit to Medicare Part B
- Creating a voluntary dental benefit under a new part of Medicare
- Permitting greater access to medically necessary dental services under Medicare
- Testing models for dental coverage
- Offering dental discount cards
The brief offers a deep dive into the potential scenarios, with attention paid to expected implications for the primary stakeholders who would be impacted, including Medicare beneficiaries, taxpayers, insurers, and dental professionals. A previous KFF report noted that nearly two-thirds of the Medicare population have no dental coverage at all, which has caused concerns among many due to the links between inadequate dental care and the worsening of other medical conditions.
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD continues to support enhanced benefits and reimbursement in private sector initiatives for dental benefits while remaining opposed to the expansion of Medicare to include dental benefits.