What to Look for in
Dental Plans for Seniors on Medicare
By any measure, the dental benefits of Medicare for seniors (65 years old and above), are virtually nonexistent. It doesn’t cover the most common dental procedures that seniors often need such as fillings, tooth extractions, and dentures.
Even routine checkups and cleanings are not covered.
The only exceptions are the dental services that are tied to other medical conditions that Medicare covers. Complicated medical procedures like a kidney transplant requires a preliminary dental exam, so Medicare can cover the cost of this exam. Or if you have a medical condition that affects your jaw and it requires tooth extraction, then that too will be covered by Medicare.
Medicare dental benefits under Medicare do not really exist at all which means there’s a real need for supplemental dental plans for seniors on Medicare.
Senior citizens are older and therefore they’re more likely to need major teeth repair or replacement. Many who are on medications are prescribed medicines that can cause dry mouth, which in turn speeds up the development of cavities.
Many senior citizens cannot afford to pay full price for many dental services. Approximately 27% of all out-of-pocket health care costs are related to dental expenses, and many simply forego or delay getting the dental services they need because they can’t afford it.
- Affordable Premiums
- Wide Range of Dentist Options
- Short Waiting Periods
- Emphasis on Dental Services that Seniors Need
- Easy Signup
- Excellent Customer Support
- Great Company Reputation
1. Affordable Premiums
Of all the factors you’ll need to consider, cost is probably the most important.
Even if a dental health plan for senior offers excellent benefits if you can’t afford to pay the premiums on a regular basis, it won’t matter. Many senior citizens right now are on fixed incomes and they cannot afford to pay too much for dental insurance.
However, it is possible to get a dental plan with affordable premiums when you get a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan. These plans may be offered by private insurance companies and they comply with federal guidelines and laws.
2. Wide Range of Dentist Options
It also matters if your regular dentist is covered by the dental insurance plan. If not, then at the very least, it should cover a dentist in your area. Older people are already set in their ways, and they have a dentist they’re comfortable with.
The truth of the matter is that older people no longer have the patience, energy, and time to look for a new dentist. So it would be best if their own dentist is covered by the dental plan.
3. Short Waiting Periods
Normally, there is a waiting period before you can get the benefits of a dental plan, and this is especially true for more expensive dental treatments. For example, a benefit may only be claimed after you’ve been on the dental plan for a year.
But some companies offer shorter waiting periods than others. It’s also best if there’s no waiting period at all for basic preventive dental care.
You need the preventive dental services as soon as possible, so that you reduce the chance that you’ll need more expensive services later on. So look for a dental plan which offers immediate benefits for routine checkups, dental cleanings, and X-rays.
4. Emphasis on Dental Services That Seniors Really Need
It’s well known that over time, the teeth get worn down, gums recede, and the teeth become infected or loose. So senior citizens are especially in need of crowns, dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants. They also require more frequent dental checkups and teeth cleaning. What they don’t really need are sealants and braces.
A run of the mill family dental policy may not be the best options for senior citizens, as these plans offer benefits that may not apply for the dental services that seniors need. The plan must be tailored to the needs of older senior citizens.
5. Easy Signup
Again, seniors don’t have the time and patience to deal with complicated matters. That means getting quotes from an insurance provider should be easy, and the info regarding the dental plans must be explained clearly online. Signup should not require too much documentation as well.
6. Excellent Customer Support
Many seniors will have numerous questions regarding the details of their dental plans, and the insurance provider must have a customer service department that’s ready to answer all these questions. Often a senior will not understand the details of a dental plan so they will ask questions to understand the dental plan more fully.
7. Great Company Reputation
The insurance company must be firmly established and it should have a good reputation in the industry. It must have a good history of dealing honestly and efficiently with clients, and preferrably with excellent ratings from industry experts.
The Need for Seniors Dental
Sadly the government seems to regard dental care as a privilege and as a luxury, not a necessity.
If you’re a senior citizen, then there’s no doubt that your oral health is directly tied to your overall health and to your quality of life. You need functioning teeth to chew your food properly so that you get proper nutrition and so that your overall health doesn’t suffer as much when you get old.
With the right dental plans for seniors on Medicare, it may be possible for you to obtain the necessary dental care you need at affordable costs. The right insurance plan can surely help, and your task is to find the most suitable dental plan that fits your needs.
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