Dental Insurance for Seniors

Senior dental insurance is somewhat confusing and very often it limits what it covers and is limited in how it works. In this article, we discuss senior dental insurance and some of the big questions surrounding it.

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What is the Best Dental Insurance for Seniors?

The short answer here is that there isn't one. In fact, a better question to ask is “What is the best dental insurance for me?”. One key point that is important for seniors to understand about any type of insurance is the fact that we are all unique and individual. When you consider dental insurance your choice should be 100 percent about you. Even the best plan for your spouse might not be the best plan for you.

Think about:

  • Your Current Dental Health – Do you have pending dental needs, such as needing dentures, extractions, crown replacement, etc? This is all about the state of your mouth, teeth, and oral tissue today and for the next six months. That time frame is important because many dental insurance policies have a waiting period before you can use their benefits. For most, that period is six months.
  • Future Dental Health – Consider the types of dental treatments that you will need in the future. In this case, the future is more than six months from now. Future dental issues might include needing dentures, crown repair, or extractions.
  • Routine Care – A good dental plan covers all of the routine care that you should need – cleaning, x-rays, evaluations, and more. If you have dental insurance now, then put that routine care to good use and ask your dentist for a short- and long-term projection of your dental needs. With that information, you can better evaluate dental plans.

Your goal is to gather information so that you can make an informed decision about the best dental plan for you.

Who Are Some Senior Dental Insurance Providers?

There are many insurance companies that offer dental services to seniors. Many are part of the group of insurance companies that fall under Medicare part C. While every insurance company under Medicare Part C offers the same medical coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B, they sometimes offer additional services such as dental coverage. Even so, the types of dental coverages that they offer are not identical.

Dental insurance also gets a little more confusing because if you are age 62 and still working, you might be covered by your employers medical and dental plan or a plan that is offered through a retirement package from your employer, union, or other entity.

AARP, Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana, and Delta Dental are a few of the many insurance companies that offer dental plans to seniors. Each company may offer more than one type of dental plan and it is important to pay close attention to more than just the cost of the dental policy. Choosing the best dental plan for a senior is a balancing act between cost, affordability, and need. A good approach is to start by understanding what the senior's dental needs are and then make a table so that as you begin to compare the different dental plans you can narrow down those plans that are good and remove those plans that are either too costly for the coverage they provide or that do not fit the senior's dental needs.

How Does Dental Insurance Work with Medicare?

For the most part, Medicare does not cover dental services with the exception of those services that are required due to another covered medical issue. There are exceptions but seniors should not expect Medicare to cover routine dental care or services such as cleaning, extractions, dentures, or even fillings. If you have an alternative insurance to Medicare B then that policy might cover dental, but again, that only works in certain circumstances, such as if you are not yet retired even though you are age 62 or older.

A good tip for understanding how Medicare and Dental Insurance work is to talk directly with Medicare or visit their helpful links for seniors page online.

Are There Low-cost or Discount Dental Insurance Options for Seniors?

Yes. Plans vary by state and not all discount or low-cost senior dental plans cover the same services. Some have limited services or only pay so much per year before they max out on benefits. Some may not cover routine care, such as cleanings. It is important to compare dental plans and look for value rather than just for lower monthly premiums. Your goal is always to find the best plan that fits your dental needs and budget.

How Much Does Senior Dental Insurance Cost?

A basic Google search produced results for senior dental insurance with rates as low as $7 per month. So, dental insurance can be affordable and add value to your insurance coverage if it offers coverage that you need.

What Do Dental Plans Cover for Seniors?

Each plan will provide dental coverage for a variety of dental needs, but are not always the same. What they might or might not cover includes dental services such as root canals, deep cleanings, and restorative procedures. When they do cover these services they do so only partially and the senior must either pay out of pocket or have a secondary dental insurance plan. Most plans for seniors pay for routine care, such as an annual cleaning, but require a copayment or co-insurance for other services.

This is one reason why it is important to really understand what the dental needs are for the senior, both in the short-term and the long-term. By doing so, each plan can be fully evaluated for costs vs. care.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Dentures?

Not all senior dental plans cover dentures. Some do, and some can help make dentures more affordable. Coverage for insurance typically varies from one state to the next so fully explore each senior plan offered in your state.

How Much Would Dentures Cost Without Insurance?

How you define “cost” is important. Generally a single plate – upper or lower- costs between $1,200 and $3,800. So, for a full set of dentures could cost in the $7,500 range. Those higher costs usually include other services such as extractions, mold production, and fittings. Again, the actual cost is dependent upon the senior's oral health, and the amount of service needed. Don't be afraid to shop around from one dentist to the next to see if there is a price break.

There are other options too for dental coverage. For seniors who qualify, other programs can help cover the cost of dentures and major dental services.

As you look for senior dental insurance either for yourself or for a loved one, make sure to focus on the individual. Because we are all unique, so are the dental challenges that we face. Quality dental insurance should fit the needs of the senior and their budget too.

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Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt