In either case, in our opinion, the purchase of dental insurance can be hard if you don’t do your homework. Why? The premiums aren’t in favor of the benefit. For example, if you are paying $100 per month for dental insurance which has an annual benefit of $1,000, that really isn’t in your best interest. You are paying $1,200 annually for a $1,000 benefit. In this case, it is better to simply negotiate a discount with the dentist or utilize a dental discount plan where appropriate (more on that below).
As a Medicare beneficiary, you are free to shop for a stand-alone private dental plan for seniors. Some dental plan types are PPO plans* and others are indemnity plans. A PPO stands for preferred provider organization. This is a type of plan that contracts with dental providers to create a network of participating providers. If you want to use a dentist out of network, you usually can for an additional cost. An indemnity plan allows you to visit almost any dentist you like with the plan paying a portion of your total charges. Indemnity plans are also called “fee-for-service” plans.
Medicare, the largest health insurance provider for adults 65 and older, does NOT provide coverage for routine dental care. Medicare only pays when dental care and medical needs intersect. Medigap, a private insurance plan that supplements Medicare coverage, doesn’t offer dental coverage, but some private Medicare Advantage managed care plans do offer dental benefits.
Does this sound good? Maybe. You’ll pay for everything…at a discount. How does this compare to traditional dental insurance? In our opinion, you may end up paying the same or less, generally speaking. While you have to pay for preventative care, it is at a discount. Compare with dental insurance, which the preventative care is free but you generally pay a higher monthly premium.

Many provide as much as 100% coverage preventative services and then less on basic procedures usually 50% to 80%, and usually 50% to 0% on major care or things like crowns. Often there is some fine print with these plans and they do not cover certain procedures. They also have a maximum annual benefit and a deductible that you have to pay before they start coverage. There also can potentially be waiting periods on certain types of procedures but you don’t always have to get a referral to see a specialist.
Blue Cross Blue Shield has a plan called BlueCare that does not have a waiting period for preventative services and many non-surgical procedures. United Healthcare's United Health One is another. Major surgical treatments and restorative work do require some wait time, though that can be curtailed to some extent if you're coming off another dental plan.

These dental schools either offer discounts or provide free dental services in order to get patients they can practice on. While they do all sorts of different procedures, it’s probably best to go to them for more routine care like cleanings, check ups, x-rays, and small cavities. If you have a more complex procedure to get done, you might better off going to an expert instead.
Dental insurance companies divide benefits, services, or procedures into categories and refer to them with American Dental Association (ADA) 3-4 digit code. As an example, Preventative and Diagnostic procedures often include exams (ADA code 0120), x-rays (ADA code 0210), and basic cleanings or prophylaxis (ADA code 1110). Basic procedures often include fillings, periodontics, endodontics, and oral surgery. Major procedures often are crowns, dentures, and implants. Procedures such as periodontics, endodontics, and oral surgery may be considered major, depending on the policy.

However, if your insurance does not cover cleaning and preventative care at 100%, then you will have to pay the remaining costs of your visit. This can cost anywhere from $20 to over $100 depending on the type of care you’re getting and the percentage covered. If you’re getting a PHMO plan, it is easier to estimate your costs since all procedures conducted in their network will have fees, but if you’re going to your own dentist then it will simply be a percentage of whatever they charge.
Since buying cheap dental insurance will mean that going to the dentist could cost you more, you might also be less likely to go to the dentist or you could put the visit off if you have a problem. This could lead to bigger issues with your dental health which could lead to more expensive procedures and treatment. For example, if you put off treating a cavity, you could end up needing a root canal.
One example of a plan that is offered through eHealth is the Dominion Dental Services PPO Discount plan which has no deductible. They provide 100% coverage on most preventative and diagnostic procedures and 45% to 60% coverage on all other procedures including children’s orthodontics. They have no maximum annual benefit and they have no waiting period for things like cleaning, extractions, x-rays, and oral surgery but they have waiting periods but you have to use a dentist within their network.
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.
Dental insurance companies sort the different types of dental procedures into different classes. There are five different types of classes. Class I is for diagnostic and preventative care which include things like x-rays, exams, and cleanings. Class II is for basic care and other procedures such as fillings. Class III dental care usually refers to major care and procedures such as dentures, bridges, implants, and crowns. Finally, Class IV dental procedures are orthodontics.

Almost all dental insurance companies use what is called a Usual, Customary, and Reasonable (UCR) fee guide. This means that they set their own price that they will allow for every dental procedure that they cover. This is not based on what a dentist actually charges, but what the dental insurance company wishes to cover. For example, your dentist may charge $78 for a dental cleaning, but your insurance company will only allow $58 because that is the UCR fee that they have set.


Enhanced dental policies for seniorsSome dental insurance policies pay for part of the costs for services beyond routine exams and fillings. Some examples include (but aren’t limited to):Endodontics: Root canals, or the removal of a tooth’s decayed or diseased pulp, are the most common use of endodontics. Your family dentist can sometimes perform this repair, or he or she may refer you to a specialist.Periodontics: Periodontal disease comes in many forms and could end up destroying supporting bones around the teeth. Treatment may include the placement of dental implants and treatment for inflammation. A specialist is often required.Dentures: Being fitted for dentures typically requires many extractions, making it a major procedure, possibly involving several visits. Some family dentists now fit patients for dentures. Specialty offices are more familiar with the process and sometimes offer a faster turnaround.Implants: Some adults who have lost a small number of teeth due to an accident or decay might get dental implants. Implants may eliminate the need for a bridge since the implant looks, feels, and works like a regular tooth. An oral surgeon rather than your family dentist typically does this procedure.Orthodontia: This type of service involves braces to align crooked teeth. Most family dentists offer orthodontia.Cosmetic services: Bonding, whitening, and veneers are sometimes covered under certain dental policies. Many family dentists offer whitening.  Types of dental plansThere are two major types of individual dental insurance plans that may apply to seniors:Managed-care plans (often preferred provider organizations, or PPOs) negotiate fees with specific providers. These in-network providers request only your portion of the cost and file any necessary paperwork on your behalf. Procedures performed by out-of-network providers are sometimes covered, but often at a lesser amount.Indemnity plans often include a larger group of providers and you may be able to see the dentist of your choice. The drawback is that patients are often required to pay 100 percent of the bill up front and then file a claim for reimbursement for the covered procedure.You can get help choosing an individual dental insurance planDon’t wait until you feel discomfort to get dental insurance. Many seniors take daily medications that cause dry mouth, which can lead to cavities. Inadequate nutrition can also affect your dental health, reports the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.Keep in mind that some health problems, like pneumonia and insulin resistance, may be triggered by poor dental hygiene. Research has even found a connection between gum disease and heart disease, Intellihealth News Service reports.If you’d like to explore your options for individual dental insurance plans in your area, just click the button on the right side of this page. You can also request our newsletter in the lower right side of this page if you want to stay up to date on with health and insurance-related updates.This article is for informational purposes only. Nothing in it should be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine. In addition, this information includes just some factors to consider when selecting insurance and may not reflect the provisions of any particular insurance product. Always carefully check the provisions of any insurance product you have or may consider purchasing. wp_cta_load_variation( '10789', '' )#cta_container{ border: 1px solid #dbdbdb; border-radius: 5px; } #wp_cta_10789_variation_0 #cta_container #content {background: transparent;}
However, if your insurance does not cover cleaning and preventative care at 100%, then you will have to pay the remaining costs of your visit. This can cost anywhere from $20 to over $100 depending on the type of care you’re getting and the percentage covered. If you’re getting a PHMO plan, it is easier to estimate your costs since all procedures conducted in their network will have fees, but if you’re going to your own dentist then it will simply be a percentage of whatever they charge.
Savings plans are NOT insurance and the savings will vary by provider, plan and zip code. These plans are not considered to be qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Please consult with the respective plan detail page for additional plan terms. The discounts are available through participating healthcare providers only. To check that your provider participates, visit our website or call us. Since there is no paperwork or reimbursement, you must pay for the service at the time it’s provided. You will receive the discount off the provider’s usual and customary fees when you pay. We encourage you to check with your participating provider prior to beginning treatment. Special promotions including, but not limited to, additional months free are not available to California residents or on Fully Insured Plans. Note – not all plans and offers available in all markets.
×