Over nine in 10 respondents believe dental care is a necessary part of healthcare and about half of respondents hold Congress members responsible.

According to a new YouGov survey, West Virginians across the political spectrum are ready for Medicare dental coverage. The report found that an overwhelming majority of likely midterm voters in West Virginia — including 73% of conservative voters — favor adding dental benefits to Medicare.

Almost eight in 10 West Virginia voters surveyed in July support adding dental coverage to Medicare as proposed in the $3.5 trillion budget plan introduced in the Senate. Over nine in 10 respondents believe dental care is a necessary part of overall healthcare and about half of respondents hold their members of Congress responsible for the current lack of coverage. A further 67% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats in West Virginia believe their legislators should prioritize Medicare dental coverage. 

“West Virginians pride ourselves on knowing what’s best for our community,” said West Virginia Oral Health Coalition coordinator Gina Sharps. “Our residents work hard and contribute to Medicare for decades. Our political leadership should ensure they receive the full benefits they deserve, including oral health coverage.”

The survey also revealed the human and social cost of inaction: 60% of respondents aged 65 or higher reported avoiding necessary dental visits due to cost. Emergency dental visits for preventable oral health conditions cost the U.S. health system an estimated $2 billion per year. 

“Oral health coverage is critical for preventing serious health problems, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes.” said Ifetayo Johnson, executive director of the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN). “Strengthening Medicare by adding dental coverage for all is an important step in advancing health equity for older Americans, people living with disabilities, communities of color, tribal communities, and those living in rural areas. No West Virginian should have to forgo necessary healthcare because it is unaffordable.”

The YouGov poll was conducted on July 7-19, 2021 among a representative sample of 404 likely 2022 midterm voters in West Virginia. The margin of error is +/- 5.8%. The poll was commissioned by CareQuest Institute for Oral Health, Families USA, and the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN), a group of organizations dedicated to strengthening access to the oral health coverage needed to keep Americans healthy.