Retirement can be a fun season of life, one where you finally have enough time to enjoy all the things you couldn’t do when you were working. You finally get to travel, spend time with your family, pursue your hobbies, volunteer, and rest when you need to.
At least, that’s the illusion of retirement. For many people, the flip side of retirement is navigating all sorts of uncharted territory. Aging is not for the faint of heart, and stopping your flow of income can be scary. So what should you know about navigating dental coverage after retirement?
Medicare doesn’t cover dental work
You’ll discover that Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental work. That means that Medicare won’t cover even basic dental procedures like teeth cleanings or oral evaluations, much less X-rays, fillings, root canals, implants, or dentures. At an age when your teeth reach the stage where they’re most at risk, your dental coverage disappears entirely. Since your oral health is so closely connected to your overall health, this can put you at risk of more than just dental issues.
This leaves seniors with three basic options:
- Go without dental care (unfortunately, many seniors on fixed incomes end up with no alternative but to choose this route)
- Pay out of pocket for dental care
- Purchase separate dental insurance
Private insurance and dental coverage for seniors
If you purchase your own dental insurance through a private insurance plan or Medicare Advantage plan, realize that there are many different options of what coverage you’ll actually be offered. NPR recently published an article that found that carrying separate dental insurance is often not a cost-effective option for many seniors. This is because of the way that dental insurance is often structured. Insurance companies not only offer varying amounts of coverage for your dental procedures, they also typically categorize dental work into three tiers.
- Type I Services include basic preventive care services, like teeth cleanings and oral exams.
- Type II Services include treatments like fillings, local anesthesia, and fixed partial denture sectioning.
- Type III Services are the more major dental services, such as crowns, root canals, extractions, dentures, implants, and soft tissue grafts.
With so many variations in how insurance plans are structured, from your deductible to the percentage that they will cover to any waiting periods that they make you carry coverage without getting any services, it’s easy to understand why many seniors have insufficient dental coverage, even when they carry separate insurance.
What does this mean for you?
If you are over age 65 and you need dental work done, you know that you can’t count on Medicare to pay for dental treatments. You also don’t want to settle for not getting dental care at all. And you probably don’t want to pay out of pocket for the dental treatments that you need. However, navigating getting the right coverage (or getting coverage at all) is easier said than done, so be sure that you understand the coverage you’re getting, how much you’re paying for it, and whether it is saving you any money.
Also, check out our blog post on paying for dental treatment without insurance for additional ideas.
Schedule your dental appointment with Joshua Colkmire
Joshua Colkmire is your dentist in Sarasota who specializes in treating retired people’s teeth. Schedule your appointment when you contact us today.