Everyone who has ever had a root canal or a cavity can attest to the fact that even with dental insurance, dental care isn't cheap. As you age, your teeth erode from acidity and may also stain. You may need dentures. Dental insurance can help with the costs of dental care, and Medicare beneficiaries with Parts A and/or B have several dental options.
Medicare Dental Benefits
Medicare Parts A and B provide little to no dental coverage. Medicare doesn't cover preventative dental services, like cleaning and fillings. Medicare also won't cover dentures. Medicare will cover dental services when they are required for a medically necessary procedure, like reconstructing a jaw after an accident. Medicare will also provide coverage if you're hospitalized due to complications after a dental procedure.
Medicare Advantage Plan Dental
Although Medicare doesn't provide dental coverage, some Medicare Advantage plans do. Medicare Advantage plans are health insurance plans that take the place of Medicare for those that have Medicare Parts A and B. You still retain your Medicare rights; Medicare Advantage plans may lower your out of pocket costs compared to original Medicare, and offer additional benefits, like dental coverage. There may be an additional premium for the dental insurance; be sure to carefully read any marketing materials so you know what premium and out-of-pocket costs to expect. You also should find out what kind of provider network, if any, there is, and if your dentist is covered.
Standalone Dental Plans
If you have original Medicare alone or with a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) plan or if you have health coverage through a retirement plan, you may want to consider purchasing an individual dental policy. One source for dental insurance is AARP. Delta Dental offers two policies through AARP that are geared for seniors, mostly Medicare beneficiaries. Both plans have a maximum benefit amount and cover preventative care as well as fillings, denture repair and oral surgery. There's a one-year waiting period for new dentures and crowns.
Dental discount plans are another option worth considering. The plans negotiate discounts with dentists who are part of their network. You pay a premium, typically lower than what dental insurance would cost, and pay a discounted amount for dental services. These plans have fewer restrictions than more traditional insurance, but may also have a more limited network. If you're a veteran, you may be able to obtain dental work through the Veterans Administration or TRICARE (military health insurance).
- Consumer Guide to Dentistry; Medicare Dental Coverage and Supplemental Dental Benefits; Nayda Rondon
- Aetna Medicare: Medicare Advantage Dental
- Forbes.com; Dental Discount Plans Beat Insurance; Ashlea Ebeling; October 2009
- Kaiser Family Foundation. "Drilling Down on Dental Coverage and Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries". Accessed September 17, 2020.
- WellCare. "Benefits for 2020 Annual Enrollment Period". Accessed September 19, 2020.
- Medicare.gov. "Joining a health or drug plan". Accessed September 23, 2020.
- Medicare.gov. "Dental Services". Accessed September 17, 2020.
Melinda Hill Sineriz has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She worked as an editorial assistant for Forward Movement Publications in Cincinnati, Ohio. She wrote for several years for allmusic.com and edited and wrote a chapter for a book with Wooster Press. She graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She has a master's degree in teaching.