Giving Compass' Take:
- Research indicates that elderly individuals expressed the need for Medicare to expand its dental coverage.
- How can health professionals best leverage this type of research to serve communities? Where can donors help fill healthcare gaps?
- Learn about human services' critical role in improving healthcare.
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Nearly all older Americans support adding dental coverage to the Medicare program that covers most people over age 65, according to a new national poll.
The poll also reveals how often costs get in the way of oral health for older adults.
Ninety-three percent of people between the ages of 65 and 80 who responded to the new poll favor including dental coverage in traditional Medicare. The percentage dropped to 59%, however, when researchers asked if they’d favor it even if they had to pay more for their Medicare benefits.
Another quarter said they have dental coverage because they’ve chosen to get their Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan a commercial insurance company offers. In fact, 72% of those with Medicare Advantage coverage said they’d chosen their plan in part because it covered dental care.
Whether they had insurance or not, cost plays a role in dental decisions, the poll finds. One in five of the older adults polled said they had delayed getting dental care, or gone without it, in the past two years.
The majority of these respondents said cost, or insurance problems, played a role in this decision. Those without dental insurance, and those with lower incomes, were more likely to say they’d delayed or gone without oral care.
The new results come from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, carried out by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation with support from AARP and Michigan Medicine. It involved a national sample of more than 1,030 adults aged 65 to 80 who answered a range of questions about their own oral health and dental health policy.
“These results suggest that health care providers and policymakers should seek solutions to better identify and address how cost and other factors act as barriers to dental care among older adults,” says Domenica Sweier.
Read the full article about dental care at Futurity.