When will dental and medical insurance be integrated?

It has never made sense to me to that dental insurance is not included in comprehensive medical insurance. Maybe it’s because dental care was originally seen as mainly cosmetic or because dentists aren’t medical doctors. I suspect there’s also concern about adding dental insurance to medical coverage due to the added cost. In any case, it’s become increasingly clear that oral health and overhaul health are closely linked, and that at least in targeted populations it’s pennywise and pound foolish not to emphasize dental care.

A newly published large scale study demonstrated that Type II diabetics who receive periodontal treatment have medical costs that are lower by $1814 per year compared to the control group. The savings held up over the three-year scope of the study. The concept is that oral infections worsen a patient’s diabetes; treating the infection improves the diabetes. From Health Leaders:

The study’s release coincided with United Concordia launch of a diabetes-specific program that provides 100% coverage for surgical procedures, other treatments, and maintenance for patients with gum disease.

“This is the most statistically conclusive study proving the relationship between oral health and medical cost savings. The savings are just the start of what is to come,” United Concordia COO/President F.G. “Chip” Merkel told reporters. “We believe that employers will realize reduced medical costs when their employees with diabetes receive appropriate periodontal care.”

Merkel suggests that a targeted approach to dental coverage would go a long way.

“The thought is you don’t need to cover everybody in the population,” he says. “The better thing to do is cover those targeted populations where we can show savings and where we know an intervention program of information and assistance will help them get in and get the treatment they need.”

I don’t doubt that the study sponsors have a commercial goal in mind, but it seems to me the idea of expanding dental coverage, especially for populations like diabetics, is a smart thing to do.

March 28, 2012

6 thoughts on “When will dental and medical insurance be integrated?”

  1. I work in a dental office and as a Realtor in the Jupiter florida area. I work in the dental office for over years dealing with all types of dental Ins like PPO and HMO. I think dental Ins is all a scam. Most dental claims get turn down by the Ins anyways.

  2. It is all about prevention. It is hard to convince someone with no dental issues to purchase dental insurance just for the twice yearly cleanings. The other hassle, in California, is that most established dentist only take group dental because of the higher reimbursements. Consequently, my individual clients don’t purchase dental insurance because their existing dentist doesn’t accept it.

  3. I think what you said was very logical. But, consider this, suppose you added a little information?

    I am not suggesting your information isn’t solid., but suppose you added something that makes people desire more? I mean When will dental and medical insurance be integrated? » Health Business Blog is a little boring. You should glance at Yahoo’s front page and note how they create article headlines to get viewers interested. You might add a related video or a pic or two to get readers interested about everything’ve written. In my opinion, it could bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

  4. Thank you for posting this. Sometimes people skip dental insurance when money is tight, and when people don’t have dental insurance they tend to skip routine cleanings. Unfortunately, this ends up costing them more later on. We provide helpful information about finding affordable dental insurance at http://www.dentalinsurance.org.

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