“Some 74 million Americans had no dental coverage in 2016,” says Dr. Tischler. “The dentally uninsured rate has increased to about four times the medically uninsured rate — even with dental coverage expansions. In part, this is due to the lack of dental coverage in traditional Medicare. Those over 65 may still have coverage through an employer, be able to purchase individual dental coverage or obtain dental coverage as a supplemental benefit through a Medicare Advantage plan; however only 52.9 percent reported having dental coverage on the 2016 NADP consumer survey while virtually 100 percent of seniors have medical coverage under Medicare.”
Dentists are trying to decrease the separation between dentistry and medicine because we are doctors of oral medicine.
It doesn't look like interest in dental insurance will pick up in 2017, but someday we might not have to worry about it. There is a glimmer of hope that dental will eventually be covered under medical in the future.
“It's widely accepted that dental and medical are separate, but the gap is closing as we move forward,” says Glassman. “Dentists are trying to decrease the separation between dentistry and medicine because we are doctors of oral medicine.”
There’s also the mounting data that the healthcare industry could benefit from covering dental as part of medical. Consider those 800,000 ER visits per year for dental-related problems. Wouldn’t more people get the preventative dental care if it were covered by their medical insurance? Couldn’t medical insurance companies ultimately save oodles of money on emergency care if the problem were nipped in the bud free of charge?
“It would be more affordable for medical insurance to include basic dentistry,” Harvard University has done the studies and states “Not only would it save a lot of lives, it would save a heck of a lot of money.”