Paying out-of-pocket to fill cavities, get your teeth cleaned or any other issue that requires a visit to the dentist can be expensive for anyone, particularly those on Medicare. But if you receive your health insurance through Medicare, you may be able to find a low-cost dental insurance policy or an affordable alternative solution, even if you’re living on a fixed income.
Medicare is the federally funded health insurance program that’s available to people who are age 65 and older. It is also available to those under 65 who suffer from certain types of disabilities and to anyone who suffers from end-stage renal disease. The health insurance program offers recipients four plans to choose from, each of which provides different levels of coverage. For example, the Part A plan, which is available at no cost, covers the cost of your hospital stays, visits to a nursing facility, home health care and hospice. The remaining three plans cover additional health care services, but they all require fees.
Medicare Dental Coverage
Medicare coverage never includes the cost of dental procedures unless you choose a premium plan that provides it. This means that you must bear the financial burden of visits to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned, fillings put in, teeth extracted and even to obtain dentures, dental plates and any other device. However, if you have an emergency that requires a dentist to perform a procedure in a hospital or it requires hospitalization afterwards, your Medicare coverage will cover the cost of your hospital stay, if necessary, but not for the actual dental procedure. If you have a Medicare plan that covers dental, check the terms of your policy so you know what procedures are covered. Otherwise, you’ll need to obtain additional dental insurance coverage or find an alternative dental solution.
Dental Insurance Plans
If your Medicare plan doesn’t cover dental procedures, you may end up saving money in the long run by finding a dental insurer that offers policies at lower costs to Medicare recipients. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers its members access to dental insurance at lower costs. The organization offers two dental plan options, but keep in mind that it will also depend on what state you live in. Some of the dental insurance plan highlights include the ability to visit any dentist you like, coverage for the cost of up to three cleanings per year and a guarantee that your premium won’t increase for at least two years.
Dental Insurance Alternatives
If your ultimate goal is to save money on your dental costs, you may want to consider some alternatives in case you’re unable to find affordable dental insurance. Depending on the state you live in, dental services may be available in your area through Medicaid if you satisfy certain income requirements. You can also contact local hospitals to see if they offer free or discounted dental services, and if not, they may be able to recommend some free dental clinics or schools that provide the dental services you need. In some areas of the country that are medically underserved, the federal government operates Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Medicare recipients are eligible to obtain dental services at FQHCs, but bear in mind that some FQHCs only offer medical services.
- Medicare: What is Medicare?
- Medicare: Your Medicare Benefits
- Medicare: Ask Medicare Newsletter – Information to Help You Care for Others
- Medicare Interactive: If Medicare Will Not Pay for My Dental Care, What Other Resources Can Help Me Pay?
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Jeff Franco's professional writing career began in 2010. With expertise in federal taxation, law and accounting, he has published articles in various online publications. Franco holds a Master of Business Administration in accounting and a Master of Science in taxation from Fordham University. He also holds a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School.