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Medical-Dental Integration: The Best Of Both Worlds For Consumers And Their Health Care Coverage

posted by Mike Enright and Megan Ryczek, DentaQuest

on June 13, 2019

Data continues to link preventive oral health care with improvements in overall health and well-being. The benefits go beyond the dental office, as health care costs fall thanks to early oral health intervention.

But how much can addressing oral health really impact overall health – when it comes to outcomes and costs? For one, medical costs related to chronic diseases drop significantly when we treat dental disease to improve overall health.

For instance, 3.7 million Blue Cross Blue Shield members  experienced dental conditions serious enough to generate medical claims in 2016. These individuals also spent twice as much on overall health care costs per year compared to those who didn’t suffer from serious dental conditions.

As another example, Aetna reported lowering medical claims costs by 17% on average during a targeted medical-dental integration program for patients with diabetes, heart disease, or who are pregnant.

Health insurance providers have taken note of the connection and are investing in programs that integrate medical and dental care. Medical-dental integration has become an increasingly common component in employer-provided coverage and elsewhere, most likely because of a shift in consumer habits, increased focus on chronic disease management, and health care cost crises, according to experts.

Gone are the days of treating dental disease in a vacuum – we now know that by increasing our focus on prevention and early intervention, we can lower the cost of and need for medical and dental treatment in the long run.

To learn more about the importance of coordinating dental and medical care for improved outcomes and lower costs, look for both of us from DentaQuest at AHIP Institute & Expo 2019. Reach out at megan.ryczek@greatdentalplans.com or michael.enright@greatdentalplans.com.