Dental4Health® Study Shows Lower Health Care Costs for Diabetes and Heart Disease Patients

Since its launch in 2014, USAble Life’s Dental4Health (D4H) program has led the way in improving overall health outcomes through preventive dental care and medical-dental integration. To better assess the program’s effectiveness, we teamed up with the Mayo Clinic and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to review medical claims data for members with diabetes and coronary artery disease (CAD) enrolled in Dental XtraSM, our D4H program in Arkansas. The manuscript of the recently completed five-year study has been published in the Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, a leading dental academic journal.

Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with diabetes and heart disease; however, it’s believed this is the first study that quantifies the impact of preventive dental care on health care costs of members with diabetes and/or CAD.

The study found that diabetes and CAD members enrolled in the program experienced lower total health care costs and achieved better health outcomes when they followed the program’s preventive dental care protocols:

  • Members who used the program’s preventive dental services incurred 25%-36% lower inpatient health care costs compared to members who did not use the services
  • Total yearly cost savings ranged from $515 to $1,718 for people with both conditions
  • These savings far outweighed the annual program cost of $105 per participating member
  • Cost savings were significantly higher for seniors, as this demographic is six to eight times more likely to have a chronic illness’

The study also confirms the benefits of medical-dental integration, which is central to USAble Life’s partnership model with Blue plans, and it reinforces the value of our dental offerings to employer groups and our Individual ACA and Medicare Advantage members.

“The study certainly validated and even exceeded our expectations,” says Ed Murphy, USAble Life executive vice president, dental. “We were uniquely positioned to undertake this important research because of our longstanding relationship with Arkansas Blue Cross. Over the years, we’ve seen firsthand the degree to which the program’s preventive and periodontal services, outreach and education, and integrated medical care programs have helped improve the health of our members. This study confirms that our D4H program also allows our members and partners to realize significant medical cost savings.”

While the study was conducted using data from the Dental Xtra program in Arkansas, its findings are relevant in all markets where USAble Life operates integrated D4H programs, including Oral Health for Overall HealthSM in Florida and Oral Health for Total HealthSM in Hawaii.