Medicare should be expanded to include dental, hearing, and vision benefits.
Congress should expand Medicare to include and ensure adequate dental, hearing, and vision coverage and minimize out-of-pocket spending for these services.
Why Medicare should include these benefits
The need for dental, hearing, and vision coverage among patients on Medicare is significant. Almost two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries—37 million people—do not have any dental coverage. Only one in four Americans diagnosed with hearing issues uses a hearing aid, with the cost being a major barrier to obtaining them. And, 92 percent of Medicare beneficiaries require eyeglasses.
Older adults who forgo or delay these services are at greater risk for emergency department visits and hospitalizations, dependence on family caregivers or skilled nursing facilities, and depression and dementia. Policymakers can minimize out-of-pocket spending by creating a benefit modeled after Medicare Part D that limits out-of-pocket expenses.