Five ways for seniors on Medicare to get the right dental coverage
Choosing the Medicare health plan that's right for you can be a chore, and you may be tempted to quit after selecting your medical plan. But don't forget your dental health!
Maintaining oral health can be more challenging for seniors and people with certain disabilities. This may be due to an inability to brush their teeth properly, as well as an increased use of medications. Plus, as we grow older, our teeth become less sensitive, so we may not notice a problem until it is too late. All of these factors make it even more important to protect your dental health as you age.1
Does Medicare cover dental services?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not include coverage for services like dental exams, cleanings, fillings, crowns, bridges, plates, or dentures. There are some exceptions, such as when a hospital stay is involved, but otherwise, you would have to pay out of pocket for any routine dental services. For some of us, those expenses could add up quickly.
Thankfully, there are several ways for people with Medicare to reduce the cost of routine dental services.
Optional dental plans for seniors
Choose a Medicare Advantage plan
Some Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) include benefits like routine dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage. There are quite a few plans to choose from, with a wide range of premiums and coverage options. You can see examples of Humana's dental plans here.
Be sure to consider your current and future needs. For example, if you have dentures or think you may need them in the future, look for a Medicare Advantage plan that covers dentures.
Add Medicare supplemental insurance to Medicare
These plans, sometimes called "Medigap" plans, are a type of insurance you can get to help cover costs like deductibles and coinsurance. You pay a monthly premium for the supplement, just as you would any kind of insurance. After Medicare pays its part, the supplemental insurance kicks in. You must have both Parts A and B of Original Medicare before purchasing a Medigap plan.
Look for a stand-alone dental insurance plan
It's possible to purchase a dental-only insurance plan. You'll have to pay a monthly premium, but the cost will be offset by lower out-of-pocket fees. Most of these dental plans require that you see an in-network dentist who may offer lower rates than out-of-network providers. Some plans let you go to any dentist (in- or out-of-network), but you may have to pay more for their services.
Join a dental discount plan
Similar to a shopping club, you pay a fee that entitles you to discounted rates from a certain group of dentists. You make an annual or monthly payment for the plan, and then pay a discounted rate for any services you receive directly to the dentist.
See if you can enroll in your spouse's dental plan
If your spouse is covered by a group plan through his or her employer, you may also qualify for coverage.
While routine dental services are not covered by Medicare, dental coverage is still an important part of protecting your overall health. Thankfully, there are a number of options for finding the coverage you need.
Whether you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, a stand-alone dental plan, or one of the discount plans available in your area, please take the time to find a plan that fits your needs and protects your dental health.
For additional tips on caring for your dental health as you age, see the article Healthy aging includes a healthy mouth.