female patient with dentist wearing blue scrubs looking at dental xray for dental insurance

If You're On Medicare, Do You Really Need Dental Insurance?

Medicare does a great job in covering major expenses in the hospital and out.  But dental care is something that is not covered by your Medicare benefits.  Medicare doesn't cover most dental care, dental procedures, or supplies, like cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plates, or other dental devices.

As we grow older, our teeth become less sensitive, so we may not notice a problem until it's too late.  And that can be expensive to resolve.


According to the CDC, 9% of people over age 65 needed dental care in the last 12 months but did not get it because of the cost.


In 2017, among adults aged 65 and over, 65.6% had a dental visit in the past 12 months.


Only 29% of the population over 65 has dental insurance.


Typically Dentists recommend two dental cleanings per year.  The approximate cost for each cleaning is between $200-$250.  If they find a cavity, you can expect to pay an additional $125-$200.


Then come the high ticket items:

Root canal $1000-$1200

Crown  $1200-$1400


If you don't have that kind of money, you can always have the offending tooth pulled at a cost of approximately $160-$200.


Medicare supplement policies don't offer dental coverage.  Medicare Advantage plans do offer limited dental coverage for the small ticket items but not for the high ticket items.  And there is often an annual limit for all covered expenses of $200-$500/year.


Poor oral health can adversely affect conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  


If you have diabetes, you're already at risk of developing gum disease.  But chronic gum disease, may in fact, make diabetes more difficult to control.


Oral inflammation due to bacteria may also play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots.


When you finish your research on your Medicare options, you may be tempted to call it a day.  But do yourself a favor and consider a stand-alone dental plan.  It will add $25-$30/mo to your health insurance premiums, but it will help you maintain good oral health and help you avoid nasty expenses that can run more than $1000.


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