One of the most difficult parts of navigating the Medicaid program is obtaining affordable dental care as an adult. Taking care of dental issues is not only a matter of avoiding cavities, but it can actually save lives. Research has shown that dental problems can go on to affect vital organs, including the heart, through infection and other ailments. In many cases, serious dental problems like abscesses aren’t even apparent until they require urgent care, leaving many people with limited income or access to dental professionals to roll the dice each and every day. As a result, it’s more important than ever to address dental health concerns as soon as possible.
Does Maryland Medicaid Cover Dental?
As of 2019, a little over half of all states have some form of adult dental care as a benefit covered by Medicaid, but Maryland is not one of these states. There have been efforts in recent years to change the Medicaid system in Maryland to include an adult dental benefit, but for now, only pilot programs are in place that provide limited access for individuals who receive both Medicare and Medicaid services. This means that adults in the state are not covered for dental work by Medicaid alone.
Maryland does, however, provide a children’s dental benefit for individuals under the age of 21. This allows for minors who qualify for Medicaid to have routine screenings and cleanings covered, but it also provides coverage for more intensive procedures and dental devices, including fillings, root canals and even dentures. The Children’s Health Insurance Program also provides funds to assist in medical care for children covered by various subsidized health insurance programs across Maryland.
In addition, pregnant women, even over the age of 21, are able to receive dental care under Medicaid when medically necessary for the duration of the pregnancy and possibly for a short time after the birth. This is because the aforementioned dangers of unaddressed dental problems can go on to jeopardize the life and development of the child in the womb, so the mother’s health is treated like the child’s health. Pregnant women also have a variety of restrictions regarding things like x-rays and medications while pregnant, so they will need to be cared for by a dentist approved by Medicaid services to administer the right treatment for protection of the mother’s health and the child’s health.
Alternative Dental Care Options for Residents of Maryland
If you’re receiving Medicaid services as an adult and you need dental care that you are not able to pay for out-of-pocket, there are alternatives available. A number of low-cost care providers are available within the state to take care of common dental procedures, and some of these providers will also work out a payment plan with you so that you can get the services you need now and pay over time. Some of these same providers also offer membership plans that act much like insurance to provide future coverage for routine dental needs.
You can also connect with dental schools in the state to have services performed at a reduced cost. The work you have completed at a dental school will likely be done by a dental student, but all work is supervised by experienced dental care professionals.
You can also see if you qualify for programs offered by medical charities that are designed specifically to address the needs of those with limited incomes. These organizations often receive private funding from medical equipment manufacturers, prescription drug makers, physicians groups and research firms that act in the public interest to better the health of communities. In exchange for services, you may be asked to take part in surveys about your medical history and the level of care you receive, and this information can go on to assist others by helping to craft legislation meant to broaden health and dental care options across Maryland and beyond.