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Finding affordable dental benefits in Bradenton can be challenging for seniors, and they’re often the demographic that needs dental care most. Seniors usually lack insurance coverage, as most people receive medical insurance through their employer. This means that retired seniors must explore other dental plan options in order to receive affordable care. Today, nearly 65% of seniors go without dental coverage, and this number is expected to rise as 10,000 people reach the age of 65 every day.
Despite many seniors struggling with a lack of insurance, overall spending on dental services is rising. In 2018, seniors spent more than $28 billion receiving dental services. Seniors also comprise the highest growth rate in dental spending among all segments of the population. According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, 6 million more seniors went to the dentist in 2016 than they did in the previous decade, and that number is projected to rise. Plus, a Kaiser Family Foundation study revealed that nearly half of all seniors receiving Medicare didn’t see a dentist last year, and those who did spent over $1,000 out of pocket. Some examples of typical dental costs are listed below:
Checkups and Cleanings:
- Basic exam–$50 to $100
- Dental X-ray–$20 to $250
- Standard cleaning–$70 to $200
- Silver amalgam–$50 to $300
- Composite–$90 to $450
- Simple extraction–$75 to $450
- Surgical extraction–$150 to $650
- Wisdom tooth extraction–$75 to $3,000 based on the number and complexity of the extractions
The cost of a crown can range from $500 to $3,000 based on the type of material used.
The cost of a root canal can range from $300 to $2,000 based on the location of the tooth and the complexity of the procedure.
Do Seniors Have Choices for Dental Insurance?
If you’re over the age of 65 and searching for dental benefits in Bradenton, know that there are options available. Once you reach age 65, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare and will receive a red, white, and blue ID card. While Medicare offers coverage for medical procedures, one key disadvantage is that it doesn’t cover routine dental treatment including exams, X-rays, and professional cleanings. Under Medicare Part A, dental treatment coverage is often only available if a dental exam is medically necessary before a surgery.
With limited coverage available, seniors who receive Medicare looking for other options that will make dental expenses affordable. Some of these seniors – approximately 10% – turn to private dental insurance plans, and a quarter of them will choose a Medicare Advantage plan.
How Do Medicare Advantage Plans Work?
Medicare Advantage is a completely optional plan offered by a private insurer that gives patients with traditional Medicare more options and flexibility. With Medicare Advantage plans, you’ll have access to a network of healthcare providers and price protection on services, including limits on out-of-pocket spending and cost-sharing measures. Unlike traditional Medicare plans, Advantage plans are reimbursed by private insurers instead of the government. These plans often include benefits beyond medical, including prescription drug coverage, vision care, and benefits for dental services.Popular Advantage providers include Humana, Aetna, and UHC.
Those opting for a Medicare supplement plan like Advantage will receive a separate patient ID card. These plans also provide lower premiums than those found with private insurers. Keep in mind, however, that benefits under an Advantage plan can be limited to preventive care only.
Should I Choose a Standalone Dental Insurance Plan?
Another option for seniors desiring comprehensive dental service coverage is a standalone dental insurance plan provided by a private insurance company. Most of these plans have varying levels of coverage at different rates. Your monthly premium, what’s covered, and the percentage of cost reimbursed will depend on what level of plan you choose. Many providers offer three tiers for standalone plans.
Basic Plan: A Basic plan usually covers routine care, including dental exams, tooth cleanings and other prophylactic treatments like X-rays.
Mid-level Plan: With a mid-level plan, patients receive expanded coverage that might include orthodontics, emergency dental care, specialized X-ray screening, inhalation sedation via nitrous oxide, dentures, and tooth fillings.
Premium Plan: The highest level of coverage, a premium plan provides partial or full benefits for more invasive dental procedures. If you require extensive dental work such as reconstructions, this type of plan may be right for you. Coverage may include:
- Crowns and restorations
- Inlays and onlays
- Endodontic treatment
- Dental surgeries
- Dentures, including complete and partial
- Periodontal care
Some private dental plans offer tiered coverage options called “100-80-50.” This often means that dental exams and other routine care is covered at 100%, basic dental treatment is covered at 80%, and more extensive procedures are covered at 50%. Your premium may be lower than Advantage costs, but a standalone plan doesn’t provide additional vision, medication, and hearing benefits.
Do Discount Plans Help Seniors Save Money?
While they are offered by private companies, dental discount plans are not insurance. Instead, they negotiate lower rates on general and restorative dentistry services with dental providers and pass the savings onto members. To receive the discounts, members pay an enrollment fee and dues each month. They also pay the dentist directly at the discounted rate instead of filing a claim.
Discount plans can be quite affordable, making them a good choice for seniors on a budget. They also offer multiple advantages over private insurance, including:
- No deductible, coinsurance requirement, or copays necessary
- Members can receive treatment right away with no waiting period
- There’s no limit on how often you see the dentist
- You can change dentists at any time
- Discounts are available without lengthy paperwork or claims to file
- There are no exclusions due to age or preexisting conditions
While discounts are sometimes limited to routine services, many patients find that the savings is significant. Some discounted services include:
- Dental exams and cleanings
- Tooth crowns
- Root canals
- Tooth fillings
Several discount plans, including DentRite, provide savings on eye care and hearing aids as well. If your dental health is in generally good shape and you’ll only require routine care, a discount plan can be a great money-saving option. Those with extensive oral health issues may wish to choose an Advantage plan or private insurance plan that will offer more coverage.
What Dentist Provides Payment Options?
When on a fixed income, many seniors have concerns about managing a large dental health expense. Fortunately, flexible financing options can help. CareCredit is one well-known provider that is accepted at more than 200,000 locations in the U.S. CareCredit and other financing providers often provide short-term financing at 0% interest if the balance is paid within a specified promotional period. Long-term financing of more than 60 months is also available for larger expenses. Of course, taking out a credit line for dental services does have drawbacks. Some of the challenges include:
- Like with any line of credit, there is an application and approval process, and not every person will be qualified.
- Interest rates for dental credit cards can be around 15% or more, adding to the treatment cost.
Seniors looking for more information on Medicare Advantage supplements, dental discounts or private dental benefits in Bradenton are encouraged to consult with seniors organizations or the AARP. You can also contact our office if you have questions about what benefits are available to you.