Senator Ben Cardin seeks to expand Medicare to include dental benefits

47 ABC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin introduced legislation that would include dental care in Medicare Part B and because local matters, we spoke to local experts to see how this can help your loved ones.

70% of seniors do not have a dental plan. But those aren’t the only scary numbers. According to the CDC, nearly one in five adults over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth.

Currently, Medicare does not pay for routine oral health care like checkups, cleanings, restorative procedures, or dentures.

And because of this, many have to go the open market. MAC’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program Coordinator, Michelle Parker says, “You’re subject to high co-payments and deductibles and minimal caps, $1,000 caps on these policies.” And even then if they decide to go to the dentist, most of the time they have to pay out of pocket. “$3,000, $4,000 for some folks to have extractions and that’s just extractions and if they need dentures that’s a whole another piece of funding,” Parker tells us.

But with Senator Ben Cardin’s new legislation, it would cover dental and oral health services, including routine cleanings and exams, fillings and crowns, and extractions.

“If Medicare picked it up, I think that you’d have a lot less payment on the back end if you take care of things in the front end, the people would be less sick, less admittance,” Parker says.

We’re told having legislation like this is needed, especially for the older population.

Dentist Dr. Ajit Chhina says those 65 and older need to come more often. “I would say 80% of them we want to see them every 4 months or every 3 months, if they have recession, a lot of exposed roots, a lot of work done in the past.”

It’s more than just having nice teeth having more coverage on oral health helps our overall lifestyle.

MAC’s Center Nutrition Program Director, Karla Beardsley says that good oral health is important for our overall lifestyle.

In the past, Senator Ben Cardin has also been responsible for pediatric coverage for dental care through both the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland