Although Medicare offers loads of options for healthcare coverage, when it comes to dental coverage, options are way more limited. Dental coverage is generally not included with an original Medicare plan or a Medigap plan, but you can receive dental coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan. There are also many other options for receiving dental coverage so you can find the best solution for you.
Dental health is especially important among seniors. About two-thirds of seniors with Medicare coverage do not have dental coverage. Because original Medicare does not offer extensive dental coverage, fewer seniors are able or willing to look for this coverage on their own. Risks like oral cancer can be missed without regular dental check-ups. It is increasingly more important for seniors to regularly visit a dentist in order to stay in good health. Dental and oral health is a crucial part of overall health, so having access to dental coverage may be more necessary than you think.
What Dental Coverage Does Medicare Provide?
As previously mentioned, original Medicare does not largely cover dental procedures. There are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you have a jaw injury or any disease involving the jaw, Medicare will cover any jaw surgery. Medicare will also cover any dental procedure that requires a hospital stay. If you are having some type of surgery that requires a precursory dental examination, Medicare will cover this type of dental visit. However, things like routine dental check-ups, cleanings and minor fillings will not be covered.
You may be asking yourself, why isn’t dental coverage built into Medicare? Medicare was never designed to include dental insurance. Only in situations where a dental procedure is necessary for some medical procedures is it covered. Luckily, there are different options that allow you to receive more dental coverage if you need it. You can receive more dental coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan or other options like a stand-alone dental plan or a dental discount card.
Dental Coverage through Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage plans are designed to cover everything that an original Medicare plan would cover plus some added benefits like dental, vision and hearing coverage. Read more about all the features of Medicare Advantage plans here. If any of these components sound attractive to you, consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Medicare Part C.
With Medicare Advantage, dental coverage may include routine dental visits. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer more dental coverage than Original Medicare offers. This type of plan is extremely popular as it offers several other benefits besides dental care. Unless you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers dental, you must pay for routine dental visits out-of-pocket. These costs can really add up, especially if you need a procedure! Medicare Advantage may be a good option for you and could help you save money if routine dental visits are necessary for you. It will likely give you the largest amount of dental coverage compared to all of these plans.
Stand-Alone Dental Insurance
Stand-alone dental insurance plans can offer you some added dental coverage as well. Some insurance companies even provide specific plans for seniors. If either you or your spouse is employed, you may already have dental coverage through this employer.
When searching for a dental insurance plan, be sure to read into the details of each plan to find the one that best fits your needs. Coverage may vary from plan to plan. Some plans require you to stay within a network for dentists and oral health surgeons. These plans may have more expensive premiums, but this is offset by the lower out-of-pocket fees from being a part of a dental network. Some plans allow you to see any dental professional, but you may have to pay more out-of-pocket for services. Be sure to research multiple different dental insurance plans in your area in order to find the right one for you.
Dental Discount Cards
Dental discount cards may be made available by dental health providers. It does not provide any sort of coverage and there are no real payable benefits for you or the dental care provider. With a dental discount card, you receive access to a network of dentists who offer discounted rates for routine dental visits, fillings, cleanings and other minor procedures. There is a set annual fee for a dental discount card. After paying the fee, you are able to use the card whenever you make a dental visit.
A dental discount card may be a good option for you if you are not looking for a great amount of dental coverage. Check with dental insurance providers in your area to see if they have a discount card and what it includes.
Other Dental Options on Medicare
If any of the above options are unavailable to you, here are some alternatives that may help you save money on dental care.
If you are a dual-eligible senior, meaning you have both Medicare and Medicaid, there may be some dental coverage offered through Medicaid. Check with your Medicaid plan to see if any coverage is available.
Some dental schools offer practices at discounted prices. If you know of a dental school in your area, reach out to them to learn about discounted options.
Some dentists offer payment plans but be sure to check the interest rates on these as they can go up.
The Dental Lifeline Network is a program set up by dentists across the country who volunteer their time and services to patients in need. Learn more about this program by visiting their website.
Dental visits and minor procedures can be extremely important to your overall health, but of course they can add up. Finding some sort of coverage for these practices may help you maintain good oral health. As you can tell, there are several options to extend your dental care coverage. Each one may provide a different amount of coverage at a different cost. It is important to research all your options in order to find dental coverage that is just right for you.