Needed policy changes can be implemented if we educate the public to see oral health disparities and lack of access as health issues as well as economic ones, develop new policy solutions and strategies, and build the necessary political will.
A reform agenda for the federal government and the states might address these main priorities.
All health insurance policies — whether provided through Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance companies — could include coverage for dental care services, regardless of an enrollee’s age. Currently, Medicare covers no dental care unless it is provided on an inpatient basis, and then only when the oral health problem was the cause of the hospitalization. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and private insurance are required to cover dental care for children but not for adults. Meaningful integration and coordination cannot happen when care and services are not paid for.