How do I get dental coverage when I retire?

August 2, 2021
aspire blog - dental care and retirement

Whether or not you choose to retire at age 65 or if you choose to delay retirement by a few years – it’s essential to think about dental coverage. As an older adult, unfortunately you are prone to gum disease and other oral health problems. We’re here to answer your questions about dental coverage in retirement including Medicare coverage options and resources for those living in Monterey County.

Why is it important to have dental insurance when you retire?

Good oral health is important to our overall health, especially as we get older. According to our friends at Delta Dental, “gum disease (68%) and dry mouth (30%) are widespread among U.S. adults ages and older. In addition, people over 65 are more susceptible to oral cancer.” Dental insurance gives you access to routine dental care and procedures to help with better overall oral health.

Does Original Medicare cover dental?

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover most dental care including dental procedures or supplies such as cleanings, dental plates, dentures, extractions, fillings or other dental services. Medicare will pay for certain dental care services received when you’re in the hospital under the Part A (hospital insurance) benefit.

What are your options for dental insurance in retirement?

It’s always important to think about your own health – including oral health. Think about how often you need dental care presently, or if you have any issues such as gum disease or dry mouth, and what you’d need or anticipate in retirement.

1. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans for preventive and routine dental care

MA plans are generally the only way to get dental services covered under Medicare. They cover the same emergency or complicated dental procedures as Original Medicare, and they can also cover routine dental care services. Remember coverage options vary by plan and can include both preventive and comprehensive dental coverage. Some plans offer dental as an enhanced benefit and others include it in their core product.

2. Standalone dental insurance plans

There is also an option to purchase a standalone dental insurance plan. Keep in mind if you choose a separate dental plan, you’ll pay a separate, additional premium.

3. Discount dental programs

Discount dental programs usually involve a yearly fee and offer discounts on dental care from participating dentists. Think of these programs like a club with an annual, fee-based membership that is good for a year, and in addition to paying the membership fee, you’ll be responsible for paying out-of-pocket costs for dental services received. Depending on the plan, some of these services will be discounted.

How do you keep dental costs in check during retirement?

One of the best tips when budgeting is first knowing how much a dental procedure in your area costs. A good resource is FAIR Health’s website which allows you to plug in your zip code, select a procedure and determine the average cost for it in your location. In addition to budgeting, there are other steps you can take.

1. Practice preventive dental care

Make sure you’re keeping up on a regular dental care routine including brushing your teeth, flossing, and getting regular dental check-ups. Paying for these less expensive services now could cut down on more potentially expensive procedures later.

2. Use your HSA to cover dental expenses in retirement

Saving for retirement is always recommended, and an HSA is a great place to put aside money for healthcare-related expenses while you’re still working. Although you cannot contribute to a health savings account (HSA) once enrolled in Medicare, you can draw money tax-free from an HSA to cover dental expenses in retirement.

3. Find inexpensive dental care

In California, the Medi-Cal Dental Program provides free or low-cost services for qualifying seniors. Learn more by visiting Smile, California. There are also dental clinics located in Monterey County that offer services on a sliding scale. 2-1-1 Monterey County has more information.

4. Enroll in a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan

According to the Better Medicare Alliance, 90 percent of all MA plans offer benefits such as wellness, dental, vision, or hearing coverage. Dental benefits from an MA plan can help offset routine dental care costs. When searching for plans in your area, check out each individual plan to see what it includes.

For more information about Aspire Health Plan’s three MA plan options (including dental care coverage), visit our plans & rates page. If you have any questions or would like more information, call (866) 798-1530 for sales, and members can call (855) 570-1600. TTY users call 711. We are always here to help.

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