A carrier recently told us that many seniors expect to carry over their dental coverage from their employer. Yet, that rarely happens. What does happen is that about 90% of seniors on Medicare don’t have proper dental coverage (American Dental Association). After filling out the Medicare paperwork, most seniors put dental insurance on the back burner.  (And vision and hearing, too…we’ll get to those later.) And, why not? Your teeth are not hurting yet and they feel pretty good.

If you read our article on discount dental plans, you may think we are 100% against dental insurance. We are not. We simply know seniors can get sucked into paying high premiums with equally high out-of-pocket costs with no major insurance advantage. But, affordable dental insurance for seniors is possible that balances the right premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and coverage.
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;}
Aetna’s dental discount network includes over 161,000 dentists, and Careington says over 100,000 dentists participate in their plan. We searched for providers from a less populated location in the U.S. and found no dentists from the Aetna plan while the Careington plan had four dentists, although the offices were located 100 miles from the zip we used. If there are no providers available in a reasonable distance from your home, you can nominate dentists, and Careington will contact them to request participation. Dental providers usually join the network within 60-90 days.
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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.
3In WY, you don’t need to select a primary care dentist, but you must visit a DeltaCare USA dentist to receive benefits. In the following states, you can maximize your savings when you visit a DeltaCare USA dentist, although you may visit any licensed dentist and receive out-of-network coverage: AK, CT, LA, ME, MS, MT, NC, ND, NH, OK, SD, VT. Refer to your Policy for details about your out-of-network benefits.
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. 
The final kind of dental insurance is indemnity dental coverage. These plans allow you to visit any dentist and they will pay a fee for the procedures you have done. They calculate a set amount that they’ll pay for each type of procedure and any additional amount would have to be paid by you out-of-pocket. They also have an annual maximum which can sometimes be higher than other types of plans. One of the downsides is that you have to pay for all the services upfront and submit paperwork in order to get reimbursed.
Another benefit is that you have more flexibility when it comes to choosing what type of plan you want. When you work for an employer, they choose which plan they believe would be right for the majority of their workers. But you might not need the same type of coverage as the person who works in the cubicle next to you. By buying an individual plan, you're able to customize and purchase exactly what you need. For that reason, your coverage can actually be less expensive than if you had an employer-sponsored plan – especially if you had to pay for part of your premiums.
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.
A carrier recently told us that many seniors expect to carry over their dental coverage from their employer. Yet, that rarely happens. What does happen is that about 90% of seniors on Medicare don’t have proper dental coverage (American Dental Association). After filling out the Medicare paperwork, most seniors put dental insurance on the back burner.  (And vision and hearing, too…we’ll get to those later.) And, why not? Your teeth are not hurting yet and they feel pretty good.

You’ll want to go to an in-network dentist as they usually have better, contracted rates. We’ll show an example of that in a minute. Cleaning or preventative care visits are typically covered at 100%. Basic or major services visits are typically covered at 80% and 50%, respectively. What does this mean? If you go to an in-network dentist for a tooth filling (80%) whose contracted rate is $200, you’ll have to pay $40 out of pocket ($200 X (1 – .80)).
Since this is an indemnity plan, you can use other insurances or coverage. A dental discount plan can work well here. Using the above example, if the dentist routinely charges $200 for cleaning, but per the discount plan contract, charges you $100, you will have a net cost of $10. Remember, most discount dental plans charge between $8 and $15 per month depending on other features.
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.
DentalPlans.com provides dental coverage to more than 1 million customers across all 50 states. DentalPlans.com has an extensive network including more than 100,000 dentists across the country. Although DentalPlans.com is not an insurance company they work to reduce the cost of dental repairs, as well as covering those who may need to visit an out-of-network dentist.
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.
The downside of using a dental school is that it can sometimes take a lot more time to get the work done since it’s a learning environment, the hours or days that they practice are limited, and it can be hard to get your insurance coverage to pay for work performed at a dental school if you have insurance. You’ll likely have to pay for your treatment out-of-pocket and get reimbursed later.
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.
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