14M people could lose dental coverage as Medicaid redeterminations restart: report

The newly restarted Medicaid redetermination process could strip millions of people of their dental benefits, according to new data.

The CareQuest Institute for Oral Health released a new analysis that found 14 million could lose access to dental coverage as the eligibility decisions roll out. States expect it to take a year or more to get through the backlog of determinations, which were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 15 million people are expect to lose their health coverage during the redetermination process.

"As people are removed from Medicaid and seek to secure coverage through other programs or the private market, there is no guarantee that they will reapply for coverage that will include dental care," the group wrote. "This gap will likely have a greater impact on families of lower incomes and people of color."

The findings mean that close to a third (28%) of people currently enrolled in Medicaid nationwide could lose their dental coverage.

The data were first provided to NBC News. According to the outlet's report, the states that could see the largest decreases in dental coverage are Hawaii, Wyoming, Indiana, Florida and Illinois. In all of those states, more than 40% of people enrolled in Medicaid could lose their dental coverage during the redetermination period.

The Medicaid redetermination window is set to be one of the most disruptive times in Medicaid's history, yet experts warn that many enrollees aren't aware they're at risk of losing their coverage. A recent analysis from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found 62% of people with family Medicaid coverage were not aware that redeterminations loomed at the end of the pandemic public health emergency.

Addressing the knowledge barrier has been a key focus for state agencies and commercial Medicaid managed care plans as the unwinding process gets underway, and they've found additional avenues to communicate with members including text messages.