As we reach the enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many are still left wondering about dental coverage under the new bill. The National Association of Dental Plans says that over one third of U.S. residents (126.7 million out of 313 million) do not have dental coverage.
Another startling fact is that approximately 70% of U.S. adults between ages 35 and 44 have lost at least one tooth, and the number of missing teeth goes up significantly as those same adults reach retirement age.
That fact, coupled with the lack of dental coverage for so many Americans, is downright terrifying.
While the ACA defines pediatric dental care as an “essential health benefit”, adult dental care isn’t so well-provided-for, despite the clear links between diabetes, dementia, stroke, and pregnancy issues.
And older patients are even less likely to have dental insurance. The American Dental Association recently found that 66% of adults over the age of 65 have no dental coverage whatsoever.
Since adult dental plans are considered optional under the ACA, they must be purchased separately. There are some stand-alone plans available through the exchange, but they require the purchase of one of the offered medical insurance plans. If a buyer is medically insured through their employer, they can’t purchase only dental coverage through the exchange.
“Quality dental care should be accessible and affordable to everyone,” states Jennifer Stoll, president of DentalPlans.com. “Oral and vision care are an essential part of a person’s overall health and well-being and lack of coverage can really impact your quality of life.”