When “retirement” was first introduced as a viable option for Americans early in the 20th century, the concept was simple: if you worked hard when you were younger and were wise about your finances, at a certain age, you could stop working and live comfortably throughout the rest of your life.
Today, reality is quite different from the original concept of retirement.
Terms like “fixed income” and “medigap” serve to remind us that it’s not easy to maintain enough money to fund an ideal retirement. Most companies these days don’t offer company-funded pensions and benefits like they used to, and those that still do may include clauses in their contracts that don’t guarantee benefits.
As a result of this challenging economic situation, many seniors find themselves in a difficult position: in greater need of quality health care than at any other time of their lives, and yet struggling to afford much of the care they need.
Many seniors relying on Medicare are surprised by the lack of dental coverage.
Medicare is a primary source of medical benefits for the majority of retired Americans, and in many cases it can be a true lifesaver. Medicare also has its limitations, one of the most obvious being the lack of comprehensive dental benefits.
About 40% of the population over 65 has some form of private dental coverage, usually purchased individually or through an association like AARP, but the majority of seniors end up paying for dental services out of pocket.
This gap in coverage can be troublesome, as oral health has been linked to other serious health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
How to balance the accessibility and affordability of dental services
"The idea of visiting the dentist every six months for routine checkups can seem unrealistic."
For seniors on a fixed income with no substantial dental insurance, the idea of visiting the dentist every six months for routine checkups can seem unrealistic.
But, not only is it the smart thing to do from a health standpoint, it’s also affordable.
During a routine dental visit, your dentist does more than just clean your teeth. He or she will do a thorough examination, during which they will be able to recognize early signs of:
- Oral cancer
- Heart disease
- Complications arising from diabetes
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
In addition, keeping your teeth clean and your gums healthy helps to reduce the chances of dangerous oral infections that can easily spread to other parts of the body, especially if your immune system is compromised.
By diagnosing and treating health conditions early, not only will you be able to live a longer, fuller, and healthier life, you could also spend less in total medical costs over the long term.
Many diseases can be discovered and prevented by keeping healthy teeth and gums.
But how can you afford dental care?
Paying out of pocket to go the dentist isn’t cheap. However, it’s important not to fall into the assumption that if you don’t have dental insurance, nothing can be done to control costs. Dental savings for seniors exist, and at a very reasonable cost.
One of the best available options for seniors on a fixed income is a discount dental program like the Dental Solutions dental card. For a very low monthly cost, seniors can get access to up to 50% off the normal costs of participating dentists nationwide, putting quality dental care within reach of even the tightest of budgets.