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August 15, 2017

Consideration of Dental, Vision, and Hearing Services to Be Covered Under Medicare

Author Affiliations
  • 1Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care, Department of Health Policy and Management, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2New York Academy of Medicine, New York, New York
  • 3Roger C. Lipitz Center for Integrated Health Care, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA. 2017;318(7):605-606. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.8647

Medicare explicitly excludes coverage of dental, vision, and hearing services as a core benefit, leaving beneficiaries responsible for paying for these services on their own or for finding alternative supplemental coverage. There is evidence of a higher risk for avoidable hospitalizations and emergency department visits among the Medicare population with unmet needs for dental, vision, and hearing services both as a direct result of needing dental, vision, and hearing services as well as an indirect consequence.1-3 According to 1 report,1 compared with those with commercial insurance, Medicare beneficiaries have an increased likelihood (odds ratio, 1.90) of seeking emergency department care for treatment of nontraumatic dental problems. The inclusion of dental, vision, and hearing benefits within the Medicare program has long been supported in the scientific community and has the potential to be beneficial for older adults, health care professionals, and the Medicare program.2-6

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