West Virginians struggle to afford dental care despite Medicaid expansion

West Virginia Medicaid recipients are still having a hard time getting dental care despite gaining expanded coverage in January, WV News reports.

West Virginia passed a law in 2020 providing $1,000 in dental coverage annually for Medicaid recipients 21 and older Jan. 1. The coverage includes emergency procedures as well as diagnostic, preventive and restorative services with prior authorization.

But Josh Brown, executive director of Health Access, a free clinic in Clarksburg, W.Va., told WV News that most state residents need care that costs more than $1,000.

According to 2018 data from the CDC, 44.7 percent of West Virginians 18 and older reported not visiting a dentist or dental clinic in the last year, compared to the national rate of 33.5 percent. More than 26 percent of residents 65 and older reported losing all their teeth because of tooth decay or gum disease, and 54.8 percent lost six or more teeth, compared to the national rates of 13.4 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

Dental workforce shortages have also affected the state, but Health Access said it recently received a $30,000 grant from the Highmark West Virginia charitable fund to hire a part-time dentist.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.