More than 60 million adults over the age of 65 (as well as people living with long-term disabilities) rely on Medicare as their primary form of affordable medical insurance. But Medicare doesn’t cover dental. Here’s why that’s a major problem.
Currently, almost 40 million people on Medicare have no form of dental insurance. Others may have supplementary dental coverage through a private plan or Medicaid, but that’s the exception and not the norm.
Without dental insurance, many of these adults will ignore chronic dental problems to the point that their overall health and quality of life becomes compromised. For example, a lack of regular dental care can lead to abscesses or even malnutrition due to broken or painful teeth that prevent chewing.
It’s not just the individual patients that suffer, either. Many of these people without dental insurance will eventually end up in the emergency room when the pain gets unbearable, leading to skyrocketing bills, ongoing debt, and increased premiums.
With that in mind, there’s an increasing call for Medicare to include some form of dental insurance. Even basic coverage that allows individuals to get regular cleanings would be beneficial.
It doesn’t help that the current rules are confusing for even healthcare experts to understand. A more straightforward approach to dental health for people on Medicare is clearly necessary, so why hasn’t it happened yet? That’s an excellent question—and, unfortunately, one that can only be addressed by lawmakers in Washington.
Seniors need affordable medical insurance. Unfortunately, dental insurance supplements may not always fit in the budget of a person on a fixed income. Currently, there are a few options that could cover your dental work:
Medicare Advantage Plan
This supplementary plan (filed as Medicare Part C) may include basic dental benefits. You will have a wide range of choices, so it’s important to work with an expert who can help you select the best plan for your current (and future) needs.
Stand-Alone Dental Insurance
Instead of bundling your dental insurance with a Medicare Advantage plan, you could purchase the coverage separately. Of course, you’ll be paying an additional premium each month, and the plan might only cover a small portion of any dental work.
Dental Discount Plan
As an alternative to stand-alone dental insurance, you might be able to join a discount plan instead. For a fee—paid monthly or yearly—you can access discounted dental services for any work you need to be done.