Finding the right Medicare plan for someone over 65 can be a tough task. Even for basic coverage there are a lot of options to choose from. Once you choose a type of coverage there are a lot of additional products that can be added on.
Generally, Medicare gives senior citizens the medical care they need. Medicare is lacking in one large area, insurance for dental visits. Medicare only covers any dental care that results in a hospital stay, but routine dental procedures aren’t covered.
The coverage most people know about, Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not include basic things like dental examinations, yearly cleanings, crowns, fillings, or dentures. There are a few exceptions, like when a hospital stay is required, but you’ll pay out of pocket for anything tooth related. And for seniors who are already watching their income, paying out of pocket for these expenses may be impossible. Perhaps that’s why almost 20 percent of seniors have untreated decay.
What are my Dental Coverage Options?
For seniors that already have Medicare coverage, here are other ways to get additional dental coverage.
- Choose A Medicare Plan That Has Dental Coverage. While the basic Medicare options don’t cover dental care, you can sign up for Medicare plans that do. Several “Advantage” plans (which an estimated 50 percent of seniors take advantage of), like Part C, cover preventive services like exams and cleanings, basic services like fillings, extractions, and X-rays, and major services like root canals and crowns. Also, remember if you’re choosing a Medicare plan to cover your dental needs, it’s important to think about what you need not just right now, but in the future. If you expect you’ll need dentures (25 percent of seniors have no natural teeth) or partials in the years to come, be sure you have a plan that covers those.
- Purchase Stand-alone Dental Insurance. One of the easiest ways to get dental insurance while you have Medicare is to simply purchase it. There are stand-alone dental insurance plans available where you pay a monthly premium just like any other insurance plan. These insurance plans require you to see an in-network dentist, but you’ll receive annual cleanings at no charge as partial coverage for dental work.
- Sign Up For A Discount Dental Plan. A discount dental plan may seem similar to insurance on the surface, but it’s actually quite different. With insurance, you usually have a network of dentists to choose from, you pay a certain portion for your dental care, and insurance pays the rest. With a discount plan though, you pay a membership fee – usually cheaper than insurance. That membership entitles you to a discounted rate at certain dentists (normally 25 to 50 percent). Keep in mind, you’re still responsible for 100 percent of the remaining cost after the discount.
- Join A Spouse’s Dental Plan. This isn’t an option in a situation where two spouses are on Medicare, but it’s an option that’s important to address because many people miss it. If you have a spouse who is employed and on a traditional insurance plan, there’s a good chance you can be added to just their dental plan.
- Watch For Low-Cost Or No-Cost Dental Clinics. If you keep an eye on your local newspaper or TV station, you may find out about a low-cost or no-cost dental clinic coming to your area. In these clinics, dentists and dental hygienists offer their services to help people who can’t otherwise afford it. Some of these clinics have income requirements or require that you be receiving certain government assistance, but many have no requirements at all and operate on a first come basis. Be warned that these clinics are open to everyone and usually have very long lines. You can also find a list of these clinics on the Free Clinics website.
- Get a dental loan. There are a few websites in the market that offer dental loans for things such as paying for dentures, paying for dental implants and paying for any other dental services you may need. Our platform, Jasper helps to provide dental loans to individuals in need of financing for dental treatments. If you want to see your rates, you should definitely apply here. The best part is of Jasper, is that there is no credit check and they approve close to 100% of applicants!