Monday, May 11, 2009
Medicare and the lack of dental coverage
Does Medicare cover dental services? Well, not very much, unless closely connected to an underlying “medical” condition like a cancer. Here is the basic Department of Health and Human Services reference at the HHS “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services”
Similarly, hearing aids and eyeglasses are not covered, as with this item from a Q&A. Congress would have to change this, not likely given current demographics and budget pressures.
However, there is some movement within the Medicare Advantage (Medicare replacement) world offered by private carriers to offer it. For example, the Expansion of Dental Benefits Under the Medicare Advantage Program, Robert D. Compton, D.D.S., in the "Journal of Dental Education", with this abstract. Blue Shield of California offers a Dental PPO for Medicare Part B Supplement (link) to customers.
Dentists might argue that there is major medical relevance to regular dental work. Inflammation related to periodontal disease is often a major contributor to coronary artery disease and contributor to myocardial infarction.