LIHUE – AlohaCare and ‘Ohana Health Plan, a WellCare Health Plans, Inc. company, announced they will offer basic adult dental care coverage through each company’s expanded Medicaid offering beginning Jan. 1.
Since 2009, dental care coverage for adults enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program has been limited to emergency care. Hawaii has about 364,000 residents enrolled in Medicaid, a healthcare program funded by the state and federal government to provide accessibility to healthcare for individuals with limited resources.
There are about 21,530 Medicaid beneficiaries on Kauai.
According to a 2015 report, “Hawaii Oral Health: Key Findings by the Hawaii Department of Health,” many residents face dental health disparities — particularly among low-income residents who are less likely to see a dentist each year.
The report also found many residents seek care for dental problems at hospital emergency departments, but these services are generally not available in these settings.
In an effort to promote better oral health among Hawaii residents, AlohaCare and ‘Ohana Health Plan will now cover the cost of basic dental for adults who have Medicaid as their sole source of medical insurance coverage.
“Oral health is critical to good health and overall well-being,” said Scott Sivik, state president, ‘Ohana Health Plan. “The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body and provides clues about overall health and larger health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.”