For many, dental care is a luxury they can’t afford, because dental insurance is a luxury, as well. Post-election, the future of healthcare is unknown. But there are some in Washington (and throughout the country) that aren’t waiting.
These parties, like the non-profit think tank The Santa Fe Group, are working to make dental insurance more accessible and affordable for the elderly, many of whom are not receiving regular dental care.
Oral Health Is Critical to Overall Health
As more studies are published aligning better dental health with fewer health issues, including diabetes, the healthcare industry is realizing the importance of quality dental care.
While dentures are less expensive, dental implants are still a significant expense for many people. But, as the Santa Fe Group proposes, dental care needs to begin before these expensive procedures.
By using Medicare for routine dental care, the industry can help prevent more significant problems in both oral and general health. The cost of including dental care in Medicare is an estimated $4.4 billion to $16.2 billion a year. (This significant difference accounts for proposed out-of-pocket expenses and other possible changes.)
By focusing some of this budget on preventative dental care instead of restorative, the overall cost will decrease. The better preventative care the patients receive, the better overall dental health the elderly will have.
There’s no easy answer to this expense, but there are ways those outside of Washington, D.C. can help.
How the Dental Industry Can Help
With a problem as big as this, improvement can feel overwhelming. There is legislation to consider, but we in the dental industry can do our part, as well. From dentists to dental labs, we can help make dental care more accessible.
For some, this may mean opening offices in assisted living facilities, like the one described in USA Today’s article on the matter. For others, this could be engaging with the community to hold low-income care days where you offer services at low or no-cost. There are a number of ways that we can begin to solve this problem.
We’re very fortunate to be in the situation we are, which means we can be using some of our resources to help those less fortunate. The elderly in our communities are often overlooked, though they need dental care as much as younger generations. It’s our responsibility as dentists to help those we can. Medicare may be able to help, but we shouldn’t be waiting.