First, you could enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Many Medicare Advantage plans include vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage. All of these benefits are coordinated together, so any premium costs will be included in your low (or non-existent) Medicare Advantage premium. Just be aware that dental benefits are usually limited to cleanings, exams, and bitewing X-rays. If you are looking for more comprehensive coverage, you may want to add on a stand-alone dental plan.
Spirit Dental is the online storefront for Direct Benefits, a company started in 2001 by Tom Mayer, who wanted dental coverage to be affordable for all Americans. While Direct Benefits serves as a broker for employee benefits and consultants, Spirit Dental is meant for online consumers who can buy coverage right on the website or talk to one of their many agents and providers nationwide.
One of their popular dental plans is the DentalGuard Preferred Plan. It provides 100% coverage on preventative and basic services, and 0% coverage on major or orthodontic care. If you have a premium plan, you can receive 50% coverage on those services. They do have an annual maximum of $1,000 and limits on how many cleanings or maintenance procedures that you can have in a one year period.
Gum Disease. Your gum disease risk increases as you get older. The New York Times notes that in a study of people over 70 years old, 86% had at least moderate gum disease and over a quarter experienced tooth loss. It’s important to properly take care of your teeth, have a healthy diet, reduce stress, and refrain from smoking to reduce your risk of developing gum disease. Systemic diseases and certain medications can also affect the health of your gums.
Dental insurance plans typically cost more than discount plans, but they make actual plan payments to dental providers. Dental insurance plans usually have an annual benefit maximum of $1000 up to $3000 per year that can be paid out depending on the plan. Though insured dental plans may cost more than discount plans they may be a better solution if you need more dental care or have been accustomed to using dental insurance plans before.
For those seniors who enjoy good dental health and are looking mainly for preventive care and basic services, Ameritas Dental may be a good option to consider. For those looking to save money, if you only need one preventive/maintenance checkup per year, you can buy a dental plan through Ameritas that will cost less than plans with more services. The company also offers a dental rewards program where you can roll over unused coverage from one policy term to the next if you did not use dental services during the year.
One of the biggest downsides of paying for your own plan is that your premiums might not be pre-tax as they would be if you were paying for a plan that your employer and your contribution towards the plan was being taken off your paycheck. But, if you own your own business, you can potentially write off those expenses as a business cost and therefore get the same savings.
If you go to an out-of-network dentist, then the plan usually pays based on the UCR fee. For example, if the dentist charges $250 for the filling, but the UCR in your area is $150, you could end up paying more. In this case, $130 ($250 – $150 X (.80)). This also introduces the concept of balanced billing, which means paying the dentist the cost difference between their rate ($250 in this case) and the cost-sharing rate ($120).
Delta Dental PPO Value for Seniors has nationwide coverage, but may only be purchased for seniors whose primary residence is in Massachusetts. Delta Dental of Massachusetts PPO insurance products are offered by Dental Service of Massachusetts, Inc. An Independent Licensee of the Delta Dental Plans Association. ®Registered Marks of the Delta Dental Plans Association. ©2016 DSM.
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The cost of not taking care of your oral health could be more. Those without individual dental coverage are less likely to get routine dental care, meaning they seek out a dentist only when they have a problem. By then, more extensive and more expensive measures may be necessary, and major problems linked to poor oral health (like heart disease and diabetes) are more likely to appear.2 Doing nothing now means you might pay more later.