Less than Half of Older Americans with Dental Insurance Visit the Dentist

Only 12 percent of older Americans have some form of dental insurance and fewer than half visited a dentist in the previous year, suggests new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research on Medicare beneficiaries.

Insurance status appeared to be the biggest predictor of whether a person received oral health care: For those with incomes just over the federal poverty level, 27 percent of those without dental insurance had a dental visit in the previous year, compared to 65 percent with dental insurance, according to an analysis of 2012 Medicare data.

Income also played a role: High-income beneficiaries were almost three times as likely to have received dental care in the previous 12 months as compared to low-income beneficiaries, 74 percent of whom reported receiving no dental care. Many high-income beneficiaries – even those with dental insurance – paid a sizable portion of their bills out of pocket.

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