On March 29, 2007, Alaska’s Medicaid for adults began covering $1,150 worth of preventive dental care, such as exams and cleanings, each year for Alaskans 21 and older who receive Medicaid services.
New services also include fillings, root canals and dentures.
In the past, adult dental Medicaid only treated emergency pain relief and acute infection.
For a full list of new services in the state regulations passed last year authorizing the changes, click here.
The limited amount of preventive and restorative coverage, as well as limited access to dentists who accept Medicaid patients, means patients will need to
- plan carefully with their dentists what to do first, and when it can be scheduled;
- keep their appointments.
Missed appointments are a primary complaint among dentists. The state recently clarified that when dentists charge patients for missed appointments, that policy includes Medicaid patients. Medicaid will not cover the cost of missed appointments.
For help finding a dentist who takes new Medicaid patients, call the recipient helpline: 1-800-780-9972.
The state investment of $1.3 million in general funds is being matched with federal funds and $1.425 million a year from the Mental Health Trust Authority, for a total annual cost of $10.2 million, an eight-fold return on state general fund dollars.
The coverage expansion was added because infections in the mouth are no different than infections in other parts of the body. Dental infections cause pain, lost time at work and missing teeth can affect employability. Waiting for dental emergencies often results in more expensive dental care and limits the dentist’s ability to address dental problems that will result in future dental emergencies.
- Recipient helpline: 1 (800) 780-9972