Facebook posts targeting seniors misrepresent Medicare dental benefits

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Facebook posts claim US President Joe Biden announced a Medicare stimulus to provide free dental work to all seniors. But the posts features footage of Biden speaking on the campaign trail in 2020, not announcing new benefits after taking office, and Medicare does not cover most types of dental care.

“Biden announces Medicare stimulus that provides free dental work to all Seniors who need it! Crowns and implants included,” says a January 20, 2022 Facebook post, referring to the US insurance program for people 65 and older.

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on January 25, 2022

The posts link to a website that encourages visitors to answer a questionnaire in order to claim “no-cost dental work” under Medicare, while a timer at the bottom of the page counts down under a message saying “availability is limited.”

They also include a clip in which Biden says: “Here’s the bottom line, my plan lowers healthcare cost, gets us universal coverage quickly when Americans desperately need it now.”

However, the footage is actually from a speech Biden gave in Pennsylvania in 2020 during his presidential campaign, not an announcement of expanded Medicare benefits made after he took office.

A search of the White House website shows that the most recent reference to the president discussing Medicare and dental coverage is from an October 2021 town hall at which he said expanding such benefits would be “a reach” due to opposition in the Senate.

A Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) spokesperson told AFP: “By law, Medicare cannot cover most dental care, dental procedures, or supplies, like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices.”

There are some circumstances in which dental work can be covered by Medicare.

For example, Medicare Part A “can pay for certain dental services provided in a hospital that are an integral part of a covered procedure,” and the Medicare Advantage program “can also offer coverage for things that aren’t covered by Original Medicare, like vision, hearing, dental, and wellness programs,” the spokesperson said, adding that “the coverage varies.”

The Kaiser Family Foundation — a non-profit that researches major health care issues in the United States — also says on its website that “dental benefits are not generally covered by Medicare, except under limited circumstances, and many people on Medicare do not have any dental coverage at all.”

However, “policymakers are now discussing options to make dental care more affordable by broadening dental coverage for people on Medicare,” it says.

Biden wants to improve access to dental coverage under Medicare, but such changes have not yet been enacted. The version of his signature Build Back Better Act that was passed by the House of Representatives in November 2021 addressed health care issues, but not dental within Medicare. The legislation stalled in the Senate, and negotiations are still underway.

AFP Fact Check previously debunked misleading ads on Facebook for “Medicare Flex Cards.”