Accountable care organizations agree to be accountable for the cost and outcomes of an attributed population. However, in many, no provisions have been made to account for oral health. There are several social, medical, and financial implications for health care provider and payer systems and health care outcomes when oral health is not accounted for in patient management. How can an organization strive to improve population health without including the oral health system? Total systemic health for a population must include oral health.
Accountable care organizations are positioned to change the course of oral health in the United States and close the disparities that exist among vulnerable populations, including seniors. Such efforts will reduce health care costs. Opportunities abound to expand points of entry into the health care system via dental or medical care. Closing the great divide between 2 historically isolated professions will position the United States to make gains in true population health.
I provide evidence of the need to mandate access to oral health care services for all Americans-specifically adults, because legislation currently exists for pediatric dental coverage.