Dental Benefits for Adults on Medicaid Sharply Reduced

Adults currently covered by Medicaid, the national health insurance policy designed for individuals living in poverty, are now facing the issue of receiving little to no coverage for dental care. This lack of oral care can be extremely detrimental to not only adults’ physical health but also their working and social lives.

In an article in the New York Times, Courtney Chelo, the coordinator for a dental care advocacy group based in Boston, explains the correlation between outward appearances and employment: “A lot of folks are out of work; if you have a gap in the front of your mouth because you had a tooth extracted, it’s much more difficult to get a job.” Unfortunately, due to their inability to constrict Medicaid eligibility for individuals until 2014, more and more states are saving costs by slashing Medicaid funding for “extra” benefits such as dental care. Medicaid programs in half of the country now covers only dental emergencies, while other states cover only cleanings and examinations. Even when President Barack Obama’s new health care plan is implemented, only children on this insurance will receive full benefits for oral care. Adults now turn to community clinics instead of dentists’ offices, but even those are not sufficient to meet the growing demand for affordable dentistry.