In a new analysis of Medicare beneficiary data, CareQuest Institute researchers find that including periodontal treatment in Medicare has the potential to save up to $14.5 billion annually for patients with diabetes and up to $27.8 billion annually for patients with heart disease.
Why add dental to Medicare?
Periodontal disease is linked to several chronic health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, and improving periodontal health can improve outcomes for those with diabetes and heart disease. At the stage of life when these chronic conditions become more common — that is, for older adults — access to oral health care often drastically decreases in the United States. Medicare does not include dental benefits, and dental coverage varies within Medicare Advantage plans. Key findings from the analysis include:
- Estimated health care cost savings are between $3.6 billion and $14.5 billion per year for older adults with diabetes enrolled in Medicare or Medicare Advantage.
- Estimated cost savings are between $6.9 billion and $27.8 billion per year for older adults with at least one heart condition enrolled in Medicare or Medicare Advantage.
- Greater use of periodontal treatment results in greater estimated savings.
Therefore, the analysis concludes, adding dental coverage to Medicare has the potential to save the health care system billions of dollars per year in care for patients with diabetes and/or heart disease alone.
You may also be interested in:
- A Snapshot of the 76.5 Million Americans Without Dental Insurance, a visual report revealing that of all Americans, Medicare beneficiaries have the largest unmet need for dental coverage.
- Impacts Beyond the Mouth, an infographic highlighting the connection between oral health and overall health.
- National Survey Finds Broad, Bipartisan Support for Medicare Dental Coverage, a news article highlighting that more than three-quarters of American voters surveyed support adding dental coverage to Medicare.