In 2023, more than 68.5 million adults in the United States are without dental insurance in their Medicaid and Medicare coverage plans. This number is only going to get higher by the end of the year, per new results from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.
For the past 3 years, the State of Oral Health Equity in America (SOHEA) survey has gathered data on the oral health of adults in the United States. This year’s data show not only the worrying reality of 68.5 million adults without dental insurance but also that around 91.4 million may be without dental insurance by the end of 2023. This loss of dental insurance can be attributed to the Medicaid redetermination process, per a press release from CareQuest Institute for Oral Health.
“With the millions of uninsured adults across the country, we are facing a nationwide oral health crisis that forces many people to forgo critical dental care and disproportionately affects low-income individuals and racial and ethnic minorities,” president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, Myechia Minter-Jordan, MD, MBA. “To help combat this, we are calling on health care professionals, administrators, policymakers, and advocates to join us in our efforts to increase broad dental coverage in both Medicaid and Medicare.”
Current Medicaid programs are not required to provide dental coverage to adults, leading to confusion and different rules for each state, which is just another hurdle for folks to receive the dental care they need. Medicare Advantage, on the other hand, provides dental benefits but can be limited and confusing as well. Per the survey, adults living in rural areas were more likely to lack dental insurance versus suburban or urban areas, Hispanic individuals were 2 times more likely to have lost dental insurance in the last year compared with white non-Hispanic individuals, and approximately 1/3rd of Medicare and Medicaid participants do not have dental coverage.
As the state of public health emergency expires, so too will there be mass losses of Medicaid dental coverage. To address this concern, CareQuest Institute for Oral Health supports the inclusion of dental coverage in Medicaid and Medicare.
With SOHEA, CareQuest aims to demonstrate just how dire this dental insurance situation can potentially be, showing that millions of people will be losing their coverage. It was administered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago in January and February 2023, comprising of 5,240 adults. CareQuest will be publishing the full findings in its newest report, “Uninsured and in Need: 68.5 Million Lack Dental Insurance, More May Be Coming.” To learn more about the report and its results, visit CareQuest’s website here.