Helping Oral Health America Advocate for Better Medicare

Advancing age puts many Americans at risk of gum disease and other oral health risks, which can lead to broader health consequences including infection, weight loss, and social isolation. Unfortunately, Medicare does not include coverage for dental care in the standard benefits for older adults. Oral Health America wanted to change that and hired Marketing For Change to help. 

Revealing (Real) Motivators to Act

A deep dive into existing research revealed that ultimately, people didn’t care about insurance; what they cared about was preserving their teeth and vitality. An argument focused on the financial and health importance of insuring teeth was unlikely to be heard. Instead, we empowered older adults and their supporters to remind lawmakers that being 65 today looks much different than it did when Medicare launched in 1965. Back then, far more people lost their teeth as a routine part of aging. 

Making Advocacy Fun, Easy and Popular

The Demand Medicare Dental campaign gave people easy and fun ways to make the case for a dental benefit, including sending a toothbrush to members of Congress and sharing social media posts that poked fun at Medicare’s disregard of the fact that older adults had teeth. 

Lawmakers Took Notice

Through a comprehensive mix of in-person events, online advertising and social media marketing, we made the issue an election-year topic for the 2018 midterms. By reaching more than 450,000 people in the three key markets, the campaign transformed the Medicare dental benefit cause from a low-awareness issue to a touchstone topic that resonated with our target audiences and captured the attention of the relevant policymakers. After reading Oral Health America’s white paper on the policy change, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the Medicare Dental Benefit Act of 2019, a crucial step in the ongoing struggle towards more comprehensive care for aging Americans.