It’s not easy for older Americans to find and take advantage of affordable dental care these days. However, it’s good to know that there are resources available which offer dental coverage for seniors. Without these valuable aids, many seniors would likely avoid caring for their oral health, or pay far too much out-of-pocket to maintain it effectively.
Medicare resources for affordable dental care for seniors
Medicare, the largest health insurance provider for adults 65 and older, has no provision for routine dental care coverage. Medicare will pay on dental procedures that are considered medically necessary and/or take place in the midst of performing another covered procedure, but standard cleanings, examinations, and advanced services like fillings, crowns, dentures, and the like, are not covered at all.
Medigap, which is a private insurance plan designed to supplement Medicare, also does not offer dental coverage, but there are some private Medicare Advantage managed care plans that do.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicare beneficiaries can purchase dental plans through the Marketplace. Stand-alone dental plans are not eligible for subsidies, and in the states where the ACA Marketplace is run by the federal government, only those who also buy health insurance can obtain dental coverage.
Medicaid resources for affordable dental care for seniors
"Beyond the more traditional route of dental insurance benefits, there are many other alternative options available to seniors seeking affordable dental care."
Medicaid provides health care coverage for low-income Americans, including seniors, through a federal-state government partnership.
Dental benefits are an optional service for state Medicaid programs, under federal law. States can choose to include adult dental benefits in their Medicaid programs if they wish, and many do. However, the availability of state funds to support Medicaid dictates the extent and availability of affordable dental benefits for low-income beneficiaries.
Alternative options for affordable dental care for seniors
Beyond the more traditional route of dental insurance benefits, there are many other alternative options available to seniors seeking affordable dental care. The following resources will help you sort through the vast amount of information available, and help you narrow down what options are best for you:
- No-cost and low-cost dental care clinics - Visit NeedyMeds.org, HHS.gov, or FreeDentalCare.us to search for clinics near you that offer dental services at little or no cost.
- Dental discount programs - Visit eDentalSolutions.com to explore a dental discount program designed with seniors in mind. (These video interviews can be especially helpful.)
As an older American, you can’t afford to ignore or neglect your oral health. But, understandably, you may not be able to afford to pay for it either. Take some time to review the linked resources in this article and discuss what you find with a trusted friend, family member, or medical professional. One or more of these options may help you bridge the gap and give your oral health the attention it deserves.