Your teeth are a part of your body, right? Not according to Medicare.
Here at Healthier Colorado, we believe dental care is health care. Yet traditional Medicare does not cover basic dental services, such as cleanings, fillings, dentures, and more. Nearly half of Medicare's beneficiaries, or 24 million people, do not have any dental coverage. Those without coverage have to pay for it on their own, or they don't get it at all. As of 2018, about half of Medicare beneficiaries did not see a dentist in the past 12 months.
Congress has a historic opportunity to make dental care affordable and accessible for older Americans. The $3.5 trillion federal budget reconciliation bill includes expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing care. This is the closest these benefits have gotten to enactment since Medicare's inception. We cannot let this moment go to waste.
At Healthier Colorado, we know oral health does not stop at the mouth. Lack of access to or use of dental care can lead to chronic medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In pregnant women, poor oral health has also been associated with premature births and low birth weight. These outcomes can be prevented with routine dental care.
Expanding Medicare to include dental coverage would make a difference in Colorado. More than 941,000 Colorado residents are currently enrolled in Medicare, more than half of whom are enrolled in traditional Medicare that does not cover dental care. Even if they have dental coverage through other sources, the benefits can be limited and result in high out-of-pocket costs. Our seniors should have access to basic dental care they can afford and depend on.
We may only get one shot at this. Tell Congress to expand Medicare to include dental services, today!
Dear [elected official],
Hundreds of thousands of older Coloradans depend on Medicare for their health care. However, Medicare does not cover basic health care needs like dental care, hearing aids, or prescription eyeglasses. Our seniors should get the quality health care they deserve. It is time for Congress to do the right thing and expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and vision benefits.
Everyone knows that dental care is essential to living a healthy life. The links between oral health and physical health are becoming all the more clear. Research shows that poor oral health leads to chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. By making sure people have dental coverage, these conditions can be prevented and properly treated. Expanding Medicare is vital to giving seniors access to affordable dental care.
I know insurance companies and special interests groups are fighting hard to limit or keep Medicare expansion out of the federal budget reconciliation bill. They are desperately trying to protect their profits and maintain a monopoly over the market. This is not what the American people want. In fact, more than 84% of Americans support expanding Medicare to cover dental, vision, and hearing.
I hope you put the lives and needs of older Coloradans first. This is a critical opportunity to expand access to affordable and quality dental care. Please do everything you can to make sure Medicare coverage for dental services is included in the reconciliation bill.