New Castle Dental Associates
92 Reads Way, Suite 200, New Castle, DE 19720
Affordable dental care is important to senior citizens. It helps them keep their natural teeth as long as possible and a healthy mouth can lower the risk of a person getting heart disease or having a stroke. Most people age 65 and over have Medicare as their medical insurance. It begins automatically at age 65 when you apply for Social Security benefits. Younger people with long-term disabilities who get Social Security Disability Insurance can also qualify for Medicare.
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not include dental coverage, except in rare, medically necessary care instances. For example, Medicare may pay for an oral exam before a kidney transplant. Medicare Parts A and B, called Original Medicare, cover hospitalization and outpatient care only, but Medicare Part C offers a choice for seniors who want their coverage from a private company approved by Medicare which may offer dental benefits.
Since retired individuals no longer have access to employer-funded dental benefits and they don’t have access to government-funded insurance, seniors on fixed incomes have to find coverage they can afford on their own. More and more seniors are visiting the dentist, but paying steep out-of-pocket costs as a result. Toe help curb this problem, senior citizens can opt for an Medicare Advantage Advantage plan, discount dental plan or private insurance to meet their needs for dental benefits in New Castle.
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.
Medicare Advantage, also called Medicare Part C, offers a different way to receive Medicare Part A and Part B benefits. Private insurance companies approved by Medicare offer Medicare Advantage plans. Most plans offer supplement coverage beyond Original Medicare, such as hearing, vision and dental benefits. Leading companies offering plans include Humana, Aetna, UHC and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Common options for plans include Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan and Private Fee-for-Service plans. Since Medicare Advantage plans are sold by different insurance companies, their premiums, supplemental coverage and out-of-pocket expenses will differ. The most commonly offered dental coverage includes routine exams, cleanings and x-rays. According to AARP, Medicare Advantage plans with comprehensive dental coverage usually include an insurance rider.
Standalone dental insurance is sold by insurance companies, brokers and agents as a policy which is separate from a health insurance policy. Many retirees lose the employer-funded insurance when they will need it the most. Gums naturally recede so root decay becomes a problem. Blood pressure medicines cause dry mouth which leads to cavities. Not being able to see a dentist regularly can have long-term consequences. People over age 65 who have untreated oral problems have difficulty eating a balanced diet and difficulty speaking, which can limit social interactions.
Common types of dental insurance include Dental Health Managed Organizations (DHMOs), indemnity plans and Preferred Provider Networks (PPOs). When choosing insurance plans, seniors should consider annual benefit limits, waiting periods and restrictions on treatment for pre-existing conditions. HMOs offer the least benefits and the most restrictions on providers; however, they are also the most affordable.
Basic, or bare bones, dental plans cover preventative services and may partially cover common procedures such as dental fillings and root canals. Mid-level plans cover the same procedures as basic plans but they may offer coverage for more services, such as emergency treatment and orthodontics. The premium plans often cover crowns, gum disease treatment and oral surgery.
There is a wide range of options for seniors who want insurance for dental care. Anticipating future dental needs can help narrow down the options. Unfortunately, most policies won’t cover major work immediately. You cannot go to a dentist, learn you need a root canal and then buy insurance to cover the cost. This protects insurance companies. If you need a root canal and cannot pay the full cost, a discount dental plan offers immediate savings with no waiting periods.
Discount dental plans offer retirement-age individuals the opportunity to have dental services for a discounted price. Joining a discount dental plan is easy; simply pay a small enrollment fee and the affordable monthly or annual premium. Each time you see a dentist who is part of the company’s network, you show your card and pay the discounted price. Most plans offer discounts on almost all dental procedures, including:
Discount dental plans compare favorably to insurance. Advantages include:
Additionally, discount dental plans, such as DentRite®, offer hearing and vision discounts too. For example, DentRite® offers a 40 percent savings on hearing exams and two years worth of free batteries for hearing aids at participating providers.
Many dental offices offer financing and payment arrangements for their patients. One popular choice is CareCredit, a medical credit card you can apply for over the phone. It’s different from a traditional credit card as it offers short-term financing with 0 percent interest as long as you make the monthly payments. If you do not pay the balance before the promotional period ends, the interest rate (15% to 20%) is comparable to other credit cards. Everyone isn’t approved though.
Seniors with good credit can also find 0 percent interest introductory offers from major credit card issuers or other financing plans. If it isn’t possible to find a low-interest card, it may still be worthwhile to finance the treatment. Even though this will significantly add to the cost of treatment, waiting can be just as costly. Talk to your dentist about how a condition may progress if it is not treated right away. You can treat a $50 cavity today or wait and possibly need a $300 root canal in a few months. Add the cost of a crown after the root canal and your total cost could easily exceed what you would pay in interest.
Seniors can consult AARP and other senior organizations about discounted credit and other options for handling out-of-pocket dental expenses.