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Affordable Dental Care: A Challenge for Colorado Seniors

Finding affordable dental care can be especially difficult for seniors, in part because Medicare dental benefits are meager.

This issue will become more pressing as Colorado’s population ages. By 2030, the state will have nearly 1.3 million people who are 65 and over, three times more than in 2000. This has serious implications for providing affordable, appropropriate geriatric health care. 

Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) data show financial barriers prevented roughly one of 10 Coloradans age 65 and older from getting needed dental care in the past 12 months (see map below). The southeast and southwest regions of the state fared worse than most regions, with about one of five seniors forgoing dental care due to cost. El Paso County is at the bottom of the list, with almost one of four seniors not getting needed dental care due to cost. 

Improving access to dental care is a focal point of several recent efforts, including the Colorado Older Adult Oral Health Action Plan, Caring for Colorado Foundation’s Virtual Dental Home Initiative, and the Colorado Dental Health Care Program for Low-Income Seniors.

The 2015 legislative session is addressing aging through House Bill 1033, sponsored by Rep. Dianne Primavera (D) and Sen. Larry Crowder (R).  The bill establishes a strategic planning group to study issues of Colorado’s aging population and to create an action plan.

As Colorado’s “senior tsunami” becomes increasingly imminent, the Colorado Health Institute will continue analyzing data that can point out the most critical needs of the state’s aging population. 

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