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The Oral Health of Seniors and Medicare Coverage Thereof: A Conversation with Marko Vujicic (January 28, 2016))

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The Medicare program, now in its 51st year, still does not cover oral/dental health care such as exams, X-rays, cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions and dentures.   (Medicare will cover an oral health procedure if it is incent to a serious accident or disease, for example, for surgery to treat fractures of the jaw or face or if you have oral cancer and need dental services necessary for radiation treatments.)  This is unfortunate when you consider for example: poor oral/dental health worsens overall health; less than five percent of older Americans have dental insurance of any kind; one-third of adults over 65 have untreated dental caries and over 40 percent have periodontal disease; the Affordable Care Act did not name adult oral/dental benefits as an "essential health benefit"; an overwhelming majority of adults believe dental coverage should be part of overall health coverage; for all of CMS's "innovation" demonstrations (now numbering well over 50) there are none that address improving oral/dental health for seniors; and, oral/dental health disparities are, according to the CDC, "profound."  

During this 20-minute conversation Dr. Vujicic provides his assessment of the oral/dental health of American seniors, his understanding of why the Medicare program still does not cover routine oral health care and what can be done to improve access and (insurance) coverage of oral health for seniors or Medicare eligible individuals.

Dr. Marko Vujicic is the Chief Economist and Vice President of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association Vujicic(ADA).  Prior to joining the ADA Dr. Vujicic was a Senior Economist at The World Bank and also a Health Economist with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.  Dr. Vujicic is the lead author of the book, "Working in Health" and has authored additional essays and book chapters on various health policies.  He is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Services Research, Health Affairs and other policy and scholarly journals.  Dr. Vujicic is also a visiting professor at Tufts University in Boston.   Dr. Vujicic earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of British Columbia and his undergraduate degree at McGill University in Montreal.

For more on the work of the ADA's Health Policy Institute go to: http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/health-policy-institute


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