Millions of older adults go without basic care for their vision, dental, and hearing needs.
Since it was introduced in 1965, Medicare—the federal health insurance program for people over 65 and those with covered disabilities—has not included coverage for routine dental care, hearing exams and hearing aids, or eye exams and eyeglasses despite the large numbers of older Americans who need access to these essential healthcare services.
Without insurance coverage, older adults face significant costs to see a dentist or check their hearing or eyesight at a time in their lives when they need these services the most.
Because Medicare does not cover vision, dental, or hearing services, most people are either going without care or waiting until a health issue has significantly escalated before seeing a doctor. Only one in four Americans diagnosed with a hearing issue uses a hearing aid. Most cannot afford these essentials, which can cost thousands of dollars without insurance.
Nearly all people with Medicare insurance—a staggering 92 percent—require eyeglasses, yet don’t have coverage for eyecare. To top of it off, millions of older adults do not have any dental coverage either.
Delaying or going without dental, hearing, or vision care puts older adults at greater risk of more serious health problems in the future. It can also lead to more emergency department visits and hospitalizations, dependence on family caregivers or skilled nursing facilities, and increased chances of developing depression and dementia.
How you can help
Fortunately, there is a solution. We believe that all older adults on Medicare should have access to vision, dental, and hearing care. If enough of us take action, Congress may pass legislation that would end this exclusion and add these benefits. It’s the right thing to do and would improve the health of millions of older Americans.
For many seniors, standalone dental, hearing, and vision coverage is simply too expensive. By providing low-cost dental, hearing, and vision coverage up front through traditional Medicare, older adults will be healthier and save money.
Join us: add your voice to urge Congress to add vision, dental, and hearing benefits to Medicare so that all 65 million people can get the care they need.
My other health issues bring a lot of financial burden with them on top of the high cost of multiple sclerosis treatment. I have had eight surgeries on my eyes for vision loss. Custom-made eyeglasses are an ongoing high-dollar expense for me, in addition to my 20 daily prescriptions.Patricia Reeser, grant recipient
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