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United Concordia to offer expanded dental benefit to those with heart disease

| Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Highmark Inc.'s dental subsidiary United Concordia will make a richer dental benefit available to members with heart disease and those who have suffered a stroke, the company said.

The benefit, which pays 100 percent of the cost of periodontal surgery needed to treat gum disease, is being offered to company health plans after a study commissioned by the dental company found that good oral health can reduce overall health care spending.

“Treating chronic health conditions like heart disease and stroke comes with a very high health care cost,” said James Bramsom, United Concordia's chief dental officer. “Dental disease is preventable or treatable at a much lower cost and the beneficial effects through reduced health care costs are significant.”

The study, which reviewed patient claims data, found patients with heart disease who received treatment for gum disease had yearly medical bills that were $2,956 lower than similar patients who did not receive treatment for gum disease. Stroke patients had annual medical costs that were $1,029 lower when they were treated for gum disease.

United Concordia last year said that similar studies found lower overall medical costs for diabetic patients who received treatment for gum disease.

The studies, conducted by Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, are expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal later this year.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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